Fact Check

Trigger in Texas

Published July 27, 2015


FACT CHECK:   Has Operation Jade Helm claimed its "first" civilian casualty?

Claim:   Operation Jade Helm has claimed its "first" civilian casualty.


Example:     [Collected via e-mail and Twitter, July 2015]

From website "Conservative Frontline" titled "Operation Jade Helm Claims First Civilian Casualty". Can you confirm this to be true?

Origins:    On 26 July 2015 the web site Conservative Frontline published an article titled "BREAKING: Operation Jade Helm Claims First Civilian Casualty," reporting that a Porter, Texas, man died in the course of activities related to the military exercise known as Jade Helm (or Jade Helm 15):

Around 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Pct. 4 Deputy Constable Buford Gleason and two Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a suspicious person call at the Wal-Mart located at 23561 US 59 in Porter. Montgomery County dispatch warned deputies a white male wearing a camouflage jacket was seen donning body armor and circling his SUV, which he also moved several times.

Two heavily armed individuals belonging to a local 'patriot militia' group soon arrived on scene to assist law enforcement. Upon their arrival the suspect reportedly took off from the Wal-Mart parking lot and a high speed chase ensued.

It was on their way back towards the Wal-Mart on W Ford Rd that [militia member Burt Williams]'s pickup truck struck a deer, critically wounding the animal. Seeing the deer in distress, Burt decided a mercy kill was in order. The bullet from Williams’ AR 15 allegedly blasted through the deer’s brain and ricocheted off the road, striking fellow PP4T member Cledus Reed in the throat, killing him almost instantly.

However, Conservative Frontline was not the only outlet to which the claim was published. An identical article appeared on the web site of well-known fake news site National Report, who (like many news hoax purveyors) recently began diversifying URLs from which their content originates to circumvent Facebook's crackdown on "satire" sites. In recent months, higher profile sites such as New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, and NBC have been spoofed in an effort to dupe readers into sharing fabricated claims.

National Report's disclaimer page states:

National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental.

Last updated:      27 July 2015

Originally published:     27 July 2015

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.