LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)--- The good news is, the “Louisville purge” never happened. The bad news -- it caused a lot of panic for people in our community.
Earlier this week on social media, a photo appeared that said “Louisvilles Purge” (yes, without the apostrophe), and gave a time and date that a “purge” would happen in Louisville. If you're like me, you probably didn't give this a second thought. There's so much I see on social media that I never worry about. This was one of those things. However, the threat of violence did cause concern for many people.
The concept of the Purge movie is that there's a certain period of time where people can get away with any kind of violence or crime. It was hard to believe this would happen in Louisville. Yes, there was an incident back in March involving teenagers in downtown Louisville causing violence. Some people were concerned this would happen again.
We received so many calls to our newsroom and photos posted to our WDRB social media pages that we brought this photo up in our news meetings to discuss how to handle it.
On Wednesday, we spoke with police to see if there was reason to be concerned. They said on camera that they were aware of the posts and keeping an eye on them and that they were not adding extra staff for the night.
Barry Fulmer, WDRB Vice President and Director of News, decided not to report on this in our newscasts.
“We didn't want to bring concern to people over an item that lacked credibility,” Fulmer said.
On Friday afternoon a local high school football game was postponed because an out-of-town school worried about coming to Louisville with the possible “purge." We did report on this development.
Before the 10 p.m. newscast Friday, Louisville Metro Police confirmed to WDRB that it was actually a high school student who created the original “purge” post earlier in the week.
“We didn't feel like this warranted being the lead story of our 10 p.m. newscast,” Fulmer said. We decided to begin the newscast with a story about overcrowding on JCPS buses. We eventually mentioned the game being postponed and the fact that police said a juvenile was behind this hoax.
Throughout the evening, thousands of people across the country signed in to local police scanner apps and websites, listening to calls that police were receiving.
Dwight Mitchell, a spokesman with Louisville Metro Police, says officers responded to 20 percent more calls on Friday night than they did the Friday before.
MetroSafe spokeswoman Jody Duncan says dispatchers also were busy with calls.
“Most of the calls that were out of the ordinary were unfounded by police,” Duncan said.
She said there were 180 more calls to dispatch on Friday night than the previous Friday, between 6 p.m. and 4 a.m.
Duncan also says there were more calls for trouble runs, traffic stops and suspicious persons.
There were some actual shootings overnight. Some people assumed it was “purge” related, but police say there is nothing so far that links either homicide to this.
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