On the morning of Freddie Gray’s funeral—during the service itself—the Baltimore Police Department issued a statement claiming that it had become aware of a “credible threat” that members of the Crips, Bloods, and Black Guerrilla Family gangs had teamed up in an effort to “take out” cops. At the time, both the timing and the intent of the statement felt questionable: Even if it was true, what was it supposed to accomplish, other than inciting fear and provoking public sympathy for the department? And couldn’t it have waited until after the funeral? Now, a new report suggests that the “credible threat” may not have been credible at all.
“The gist of this alert asserts that the BGF [Black Guerilla Family], the Bloods, and the Crips, have partnered to ‘take out’ law enforcement. The alert says this is a credible threat, but, I do not know if that ‘credible threat’ means that they actually have specific information or that the 3 groups involved have credibility in taking that kind of action against law enforcement, I would assert that it’s the latter,” wrote the fusion center employee named Brian. DHS redacted his surname.
The fusion center employee, whose name is Brian, said it was “curious that the alert came out from BPD media relations section instead of BPD Intelligence Unit, which is where we typically receive this kind of info…. The tensions have heightened here in Baltimore over the last 72 hours so this alert cannot be considered without that context.”
Hours later, in the same email chain, another DHS employee said, “FBI Baltimore has interviewed the source of this information and has determined this threat to be non-credible,” apparently marking this the first time that it was debunked since the threat first surfaced.
An FBI spokeswoman confirmed to the Baltimore Sun that the bureau had investigated the threat and found it non-credible. In a follow-up, the Sun reported that the Baltimore County Police Department—which polices the city’s northern suburbs—also didn’t give much stock to the idea:
Baltimore County Police officials found the threat to be “uncorroborated,” according to internal police emails obtained this week by The Sun under the Maryland Public Information Act. In an email to all sworn officers sent out at 4:12 p.m. on April 27, a lieutenant wrote that the city “identifies very nonspecific information about a retaliatory threat towards Law Enforcement after today’s funeral for Freddy Gray.”
So where did it come from? Thin air? An image macro posted to social media, like the one that started the bogus “purge” rumor? It wouldn’t be the first time a police department completely lost its shit over an Instagram post.
When I was in Baltimore that week, I heard two insane rumors that apparently came from law enforcement officers, both of which turned out to be false. The day of the funeral, a man told me he’d heard from a cop that another officer had been taken hostage by a group of Baltimoreans and was being held hostage in a West Baltimore basement at gunpoint. And the following day, a national guardsman told me that protesters had hijacked an ambulance in an attempt to steal narcotics. Baltimore police declined the Sun’s request for comment.