Social media fame is a race to the bottom. Concepts that seem novel one day get chewed up,
But the absolute farthest edge of this dystopian, hypercapitalist nightmare-world is the realm of internet pranksters, a group of Instagrammers and YouTubers famous for filming themselves vomiting, getting second-degree burns, ridiculing suicide victims, and committing crimes such as theft and vandalism in exchange for online engagement, fleeting fame, and corporate sponsorships.
This brings us to 24-year-old Dorian Thomas — better known as Miami Instagram prankster DooGang3x, the man who filmed himself lighting a Roman-candle-style firework inside a South Miami-Dade Dollar Tree July 4 and nearly burning the building down before fleeing cops. "Doo" had been on the run since the Independence Day incident, but Miami-Dade Police said yesterday they'd found him in Los Angeles and arrested him. Thomas was extradited to South Florida by plane later that same day.
But it turns out DooGang3x fled the cops in his signature style: In a series of Instagram videos, Thomas chronicled his flight from law enforcement, repeatedly bragging he was undergoing "the race" from the cops to beat his charges and taunting officers for being unable to locate him in Los Angeles. In his high-pitched cadence, he also repeatedly railed against the fact that officers were trying to arrest him for a prank he says didn't hurt anyone or do any real damage to the Dollar Tree.
With each video, he became more of an antihero in a small but influential corner of the internet. The website WorldStarHipHop repeatedly pushed the #FreeDooGang hashtag and shared images of his whereabouts. At least one artist posted a drawing of DooGang hiding under a cop car as an officer tried to find him.
"Man them bitch-ass laws really got me hiding, son!" Thomas narrated in a July 7 clip filmed at an undisclosed location. "They don't know where I'm at, that's all that matters though. I was just celebrating!"
He added. "Them motherfucking laws looking for me just because I lit a firecracker in the motherfucking store? They got people dying out here, man! What
Much like Florida's more popular (and since-banned) Instagram star BoonkGang, Thomas was known for committing public disturbances and occasional acts of small-time vandalism.
BoonkGang, whose real name is John Hill, was arrested in summer 2017 for allegedly stealing a $38 plate of pastries from a South Florida Dunkin Donuts. After filming himself stealing shoes from a local Foot Locker, destroying street vendors' carts in New York City, and ruining products at multiple fast-food joints and convenience stores, Hill eventually earned more than a million Instagram followers before he was banned last month for posting his own sex tape to Instagram. He has since moved to Los Angeles, transitioned into rapping, and survived accidentally shooting himself in the leg. (There's even a conspiracy theory that
Though he wasn't into committing pure acts of property destruction, DooGang committed all kinds of public stunts, from blowing an air horn inside a fast-food restaurant to beating the daylights out of a Mickey Mouse impersonator at Miami's Bayfront Park. (The mouse, fellow prankster @305MickeyMouse, was in on the joke.) In February, Thomas was arrested in Louisiana for jumping onto a church stage and screaming about pizza rolls.
To celebrate July 4, Thomas had a friend show up at a Dollar Tree near the Falls in South Miami-Dade. In the viral clip, a shirtless Thomas runs into the store with the
Realizing he's placed the lit firework near a huge cardboard display, he pulls a cardboard box out of harm's way before running out of the store.
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Residents and witnesses then began posting that some doofus had lit a celebratory firework inside the store and that Miami-Dade County cops and firefighters had shown up in response. MDPD later told TV news stations that officers were actively hunting for DooGang3x.
But Thomas didn't exactly lie low. He first gave an utterly bizarre Skype interview to WPLG reporter Liane Morejon in which he repeatedly cut her off to harass her and ask if she was single. He then filmed himself watching TV news reports about his alleged crime before turning to the camera and laughing:
#EXCLUSIVE: A very interesting interview with DooGang3x, the local prankster whose viral stunt involving fireworks inside a Dollar Tree store has caught the attention of police. The video, his statement, and reaction from store customers next at 11 on @WPLGLocal10. pic.twitter.com/UHuTmXFzV6— Liane Morejon (@LianeMorejonTV) July 6, 2018
But things got only more absurd from there. Days later, DooGang magically turned up on the opposite end of the country in Los Angeles after having somehow slipped out of Dade County unbeknownst to law enforcement.
"Them laws out there looking for me and shit. I had to do the motherfucking race on they ass," he said to a friend filming while he strolled around Hollywood in July. "Tay-K in this bitch! They thought they
An absurd string of clips followed: Thomas filmed himself buying weed, sprinting on the beach, and altogether living his best life while repeatedly poking fun at the cops who'd let him slip out of their grasp. In one clip filmed by a friend who said he was "hiding DooGang," Thomas and a fellow musician recorded themselves playing chess on an Instagram model's butt.
As the high jinks escalated, so did his fame. The #FreeDooGang hashtag spread across social media, and one user even drew a caricature of Thomas pulling a fast one on the law:
But for reasons that are not yet clear, the shenanigans stopped this week. Police have not yet explained how they caught DooGang, but a week ago, a friend of Thomas' using the handle @tone.is.music took over the DooGang account to announce LAPD had arrested the social media star.
"I'm in this cage once again," Thomas said by phone from jail. "You heard me. But the name is
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MDPD announced yesterday it was extraditing Thomas to Miami. Hours after that news broke, @tone.is.music hopped onto the DooGang page to live-stream the social media star's trip back to the Magic City. His friends have since created a GoFundMe account to raise $7,000 for his legal fees.
The post ended with his fans' online rallying cry: "#FreeDooGang."