The Heartless Felons, a Cleveland-area gang, may not have actually issued orders to kill white police officers, according to a report on Monday.
According to Cleveland.com, investigators have said the threats against white officers is unsubstantiated. The same media outlet reported on Dec. 17 that the “Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office received the tip and deemed it credible enough to reach out to local police departments to make them aware of the threat.”
The rumors started after a screenshot of an e-mail circulated via Facebook and Twitter. But on Monday, Cleveland police said the threats weren’t substantiated.
The e-mail about the threat last week said, “Information was obtained via the [Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office] that the Heartless Felon Gang has issued an order to kill any white police officer in retaliation for recent current event incidents (Ferguson and CPD 12 year old BB gun shooting.)”
Another e-mail that’s been going around also reads: “In the wake of several highly publicized media accounts of the shooting deaths of blacks by white police officers, a violent street gang has decided that the time has come for them to take justice into their own hands by murdering white cops. The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office in northern Ohio said area street gang Heartless Felons has instructed its members to kill white police officers in retaliation for the deaths of blacks like Michael Brown and Eric Garner,” according to Snopes.com.
John O’Brien, who is a spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, said that local detectives didn’t think the threat was credible. No official memo about it was sent out to officers in the area, the website reported.
However, Akron Police Chief James Nice told the website he was notified of the threat via a police bulletin. “We just want our officers to be on heightened alert,” said Nice. “We need to remain tactically alert of surroundings when a threat like that is made. This gang is absolutely violent. It’s not a threat with no substance.”
The Heartless Felons are a street gang that started out in northern Ohio prisons. In recent months, the gang is operating throughout Cleveland, Akron, and Canton.
“Heartless Felons are particularly associated with weapons,” Andrew Deserto, the assistant chief deputy U.S. Marshal for the northern district of Ohio, told NewsNet5 in January. “We know that if someone is a heartless felon, they’re probably going to have a weapon on them, or they’re going to be carrying a weapon most of the time.”
He said that members of the gang have been released from prison and are continuing their connection with local communities.
“They’re wreaking fear and havoc within the communities, and that’s how the Heartless Felons work,” Deserto said.. “They intimidate and cause fear to get what they want.”