It was three years ago today that 20 little children were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Not long afterward, Florida Atlantic University Professor James Tracy began spreading the idea on his blog that the shooting was a hoax. He inflamed a growing movement of conspiracy theorists who frequently say that mass murders and terrorist attacks are elaborate schemes designed by the U.S. government to garner support for gun control.
Indeed, the shooting sparked increased calls for gun control — though gun sales are stronger than ever now.
Tracy has never relented from his position, and now, he's even doubling down on his insistence that Sandy Hook was a staged incident.
Families of victims, however, insist their pain is real and have been appalled that such theorists cyber-stalk them and bombard them with indignities like talking about digging up children's bodies as proof.
Tracy, a father of three, has written that he noticed in the days after the shooting that "commonplace emergency protocols were abandoned. There was no surge of EMTs into the building, no proper triage protocol employed or Med-Evac helicopters called." He says his subsequent investigation of the matter is a "research project."
Similar-minded conspiracy theorists often base their claims on "evidence" like photos of two people at separate tragedies looking vaguely alike. They'll accuse families of having photoshopped baby pictures and insist the kids never existed.
As one parent, Lenny Pozner, wrote in the Hartford Courant, "the hoaxers labeled virtually everyone in Newtown as involved in the alleged plot to fake the shootings, including police, medical personnel, and — most egregiously — the parents whose young children had just been slaughtered. Bloggers and YouTubers from across the Internet accused these grief-stricken parents of being paid actors and told them that their children never existed." He said that based on the images that obsessed hoaxers post on social media, they seem like necrophiliacs and child predators.
The Pozners wrote a letter that was published in the
Tracy is claiming he's the victim. On a Facebook page
He teaches a class
Reviewers seem to agree that he is not hot, though, as he scored low in the "hotness" category.
A website called SandyHookFacts.com chronicles attacks on the Sandy Hook families and seeks to discredit Tracy and debunk a list of the claims he and other hoaxers have made.
The blog states, "It is almost beyond comprehension that a tenured Florida Atlantic University Professor is allowed to engage in his acts designed to target victims of violent crime, let alone Sandy Hook parents; yet James Tracy has targeted many of them. Chief among Tracy's targets
"What kind of person targets a little girl? I think we all know which type. The worst of the worst."
Pozner has said that it's the conspiracy theorists who are using the tragedy for personal gain, pointing out that one Orlando man tried raising money online to "investigate." Pozner has started a group, the HONR Network, to bring awareness of the hoaxers.
New Times left a message for Tracy at his office and a message for an FAU spokesperson. We will update if we hear back.