By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
10:41 AM EST, December 24, 2011
Update: The man who says his photo was used as part of the hoax lives in London, and has given an interview to The Baltimore Sun.
The disbelief over unruly crowds fighting and being pepper sprayed over Air Jordan Concords turned to mourning when it was reported on social media and blogs that a young man, 18-year-old Tyreek Amir Jacobs, had been killed for the coveted shoes.
As the rumors put it, Jacobs was a teen from Washington DC and killed in Maryland, possibly at the Wheaton Mall. A photo of him was passed around, inscribed with his date of birth and date of death. But calls to police revealed there had been no killings under such circumstances in the DC, Maryland and Virginia area.
"Nothing like that has happened here, and I hope we would know," said one Montgomery County police official. While media outlets in the district reported on disturbances around the area, none ended fatally. Still, as of this writing, some 12,000 people were participating in no less than eight Facebook groups about Jacobs' killing. Darren Rovell, a sports business reporter for CNBC, posted about it to his 150,000 followers on Twitter, albeit with the caveat that it was not confirmed.
The photo appears to have been lifted from the NAACP's Legal Defenders blog, posted in October 2010. Lee Daniels, communications director for the legal defense fund, says his web site administrators started noticing a bump in traffic this morning and learned of the killed-for-his-Jordans rumors. Though he knew it was a stock photo, he initially wondered if the boy in the image had indeed been killed.
"The blog post exploded this morning, and we were immediately suspicious about the story," Daniels said. "It appears to be just another Internet phenomenon."
A little web sleuthing by The Sun's Steve Earley revealed you, too, can purchase the stock photo, which according to its description is not a DC high schooler but actually a "college student working in a labratory." It's not clear how long it's been available online, and the phone number for the Idaho-based photographer listed as having taken it was disconnected, indicating it could be quite old. (UPDATE: I misinterpreted the phone number, which appears to in fact be UK-based, according to the Washington Post's J. Freedom du Lac)
So who started the Facebook page? The first person to post on the "RIP Tyreek AMIR Jacobs Got Killed For Jordan Concords", at 1:04 a.m., a teen from Potomac Falls High School, sent me a message saying it wasn't him. "I saw it on my timeline," he said. "We'll see if its real," he said, offering a link to a blog that just regurgitated the rumor.
Whoever the creator of the page is, they're sticking to their guns:
"I don't care if yall think this fake or not, STOP disrespecting my step brother by commenting with unnecessary wall post if you got nothing nice to say please dont say nothing at all RIP TEEK TEEK IMA MISS U BRO LOVE U 4 LIFE!"
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun