A news story circulated on Facebook, Reddit and other social media Friday that reported a man from Myrtle Beach, SC., had died after firing a “large calibre” weapon into Hurricane Florence.
The only problem? It didn’t happen.
The story, posted on the website CGC News, only quotes a “source who responded to the scene” to report that a 33-year-old man fired a weapon into the hurricane, only to have the bullet ricochet off ... something, and kill him instantly.
“It’s believed that the 33-year old victim was attending a ‘hurricane party’ held by a friend, and that he was severely intoxicated at the time of the incident,” the story says. “Investigations are continuing.”
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There are a few giveaways that this story isn’t up to snuff.
- The news was not corroborated on any other site, despite legions of journalists covering the coastal area where the hurricane is currently churning.
- The story doesn’t name the source, the police department, or the victim, and gives no details on time other than to say it was “earlier this afternoon.”
- The website CGC News was only created five days ago, on Sept. 9, according to a domain lookup.
- Despite starting off by saying the man was from Myrtle Beach, the story later says the victim was a “33-year old Florence man,” apparently a reference to Florence, SC.
Police from both Florence and Myrtle Beach told McClatchy they had not heard any such report.
“I have not heard a a single call in any way, shape or form about anything like that,” a police corporal in Myrtle Beach said, and a Florence police spokesperson said they “haven’t had anything like that in Florence.”
It’s true that a Facebook group cropped up before the storm urging people to shoot at Hurricane Florence to make it go away, and that police have warned against doing so before other hurricanes, like Hurricane Irma, McClatchy previously reported. The largest such group for Hurricane Florence is called “Shooting Guns At Hurricane Florence To Scare It Away” and has more than 35,000 members.
But the group, and dozens of joke Facebook groups like it, are not meant to be taken seriously. “Shooting Guns At Hurricane Florence To Scare It Away” even includes a disclaimer.
“Do not actually discharge firearms into the air,” it reads. “You could kill someone and you cannot frighten a hurricane. I cant believe I actually have to write this.”