Fact Check

Photograph Shows Alton Sterling with Children, Guns

A years-old image purports to show a man who was fatally shot by police in July 2016.

Published Jul 7, 2016

A photograph shows Alton Sterling and two children holding guns.

On 7 July 2016, a photograph purportedly showing Alton Sterling and two of his children holding guns was posted to the "White Rights" section of Reddit. There is no evidence, however, that the man pictured in this image is the same man who was shot and killed by police officers in Baton Rouge.

The image displayed above has been circulating since at least 2010 (a time stamp on the image shows it was taken even earlier in 2007) when it was posted to comedian Dan Goodman's "Ghetto MySpace" web, where it was accompanied by several other images of this family:

parental guidance photo parental guidance

A few of these photographs have also been featured on "Parenting Fails" lists.  While Goodman did not provide an exact source for the images displayed here, the pictures from "Ghetto Myspace" were purportedly culled from real MySpace profiles:

GhettoMyspace.net, recently featured on Tosh.0, Bossip.com, and Death and Taxes Mag, is a site dedicated to real photos from people’s myspace profiles. On this site you will find kids with guns, drug dealing, ghetto booty, hood funerals, and in general people having a great time. May we all have as much fun as the people in the pictures.

Goodman removed the post containing these images from Ghettomyspace.net shortly after this article was published. He explained the decision in an email, writing that he wanted "zero association" with the community claiming that the images showed Alton Sterling:

I've deleted the post. I want zero association with that community. I'm saddened anyone would use these pictures in how i'm guessing they're using them. I don't think it's him and furthermore if you look closely all the guns in the picture are Airsoft guns and not the real thing.

Ghettomyspace was always meant to be funny and more commentary on the crazy stuff people share on social media and the gun culture, and at the time the social divide that was happening in 2010 when some people were only on myspace and some were only on facebook.

There is no evidence that this image is of Alton Sterling (it bears little more than a passing resemblance to later photographs of him) or that it came from Sterling's MySpace profile:

alton sterling collage

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.