RALEIGH — Some people are living in fear at night. They are afraid if they flash their headlights at another car, they'll become the victim of a deadly gang initiation. It's fear spawned by an urban legend that is being circulated around the Triangle.
Most people write off the "urban legends" as nothing more than glorified ghost stories.
But one that's circulating right now is written on state letterhead, and it has some people wondering if it's fact or fiction.
You're driving down a dark road at night when you see a car coming toward you without its lights on. Your first reaction might be to warn the driver by flashing your brights. Some people believe that could be a deadly mistake.
"If they're driving, and they see a car without lights, they shouldn't flash their lights, because that's a gang initiation, and the person inside the other car will shoot and kill them to get into the gang," said store manager Van Tilburg.
A memo describing the gang initiation rite was posted at Tilburg's convenience store in Wilson.
It was written by a state safety officer onDepartment of Correctionletterhead and warned people to beware of the "lights out" attacks.
"My husband's a trucker. He's on third shift, so it concerns me about people driving late at night," said Brandi Hollomon.
Hollomon picked up one of the flyers. The frightening description beneath the state seal made her fear it could be true.
"If somebody was coming down the road with no headlights on, I'd flash. For them to turn around and come after me, that's scary," said Hollomon.
Tilburg doesn't believe the gang story. Still, he wonders if it could take on a life of its own.
"I can see some gang actually saying that's a good idea," said Tilburg.
A Department of Correction spokesperson says the urban legend memo was a mistake.
The employee who wrote it will issue another memo Tuesday, saying the gang attack rumor is just that, a rumor.