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More pranks reported locally, now by text message

By Scott Harvey

Commerce – Spring break seemed to have brought a lot of childish and not so childish telephone pranks with it to the region.

The Commerce Police Department Thursday received reports from more than ten residents who'd received threatening text messages telling them to stay clear of Wal-Mart for the evening. According to Assistant Police Chief Steven Harrison, the texts warned from going to the store, indicating there was to be a gang initiation and three people would be shot.

"People were getting text messages that said: Do not go to Wal-Mart tonight. There is a gang initiation and three women, three people will be shot. Do not go to Wal-Mart. This is not a joke," said Harrison.

Commerce PD notified Wal-Mart of the threats, who had already been made aware of the situation. Precautions were put into place but no such incident took place.

The text prank follows a telephone prank from the previous weekend at McDonald's in both Commerce and Greenville, where an anonymous caller was able to convince employees to manually activate the restaurants' fire suppression systems, causing significant damage.

There has been no indication that the pranks are related.

According to Harrison, local officials are working with the Texas Ranger as well as the FBI to determine where the pranks may have originated from. He said they've found an internet site which the pranks are operating through, but would not indicate a specific region from where it's occurring. The calls are reportedly affecting not only McDonalds, but other businesses like KFC, Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn.