Fact Check

Was the Texas Church Shooter an Antifa Member Who Vowed to Start Civil War?

Reports that the perpetrator carried an Antifa flag and told churchgoers “this is a communist revolution” are fake news.

Published Nov 5, 2017

The perpetrator of the Sutherland Springs shooting carried an Antifa flag and told churchgoers “this is a communist revolution.”

On 5 November 2017, a gunman clad in black opened fire on parishioners at a Sunday service at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing at least 26 people. Within hours of that massacre, fake news sites were shamelessly exploiting the tragedy for personal gain by disseminating fabricated information about the shooter. One common theme to such fake news stories was that the shooter was connected to the "Antifa" movement:

The gunman who opened fire inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, has been identified as Devin Kelley, an Antifa member who vowed to start a civil war by “targeting white conservative churches” and causing anarchy in the United States.

Devin Kelley, who killed at least 27 people and injured many more, was one of two shooters in the church, according to eyewitnesses, who also report Kelley carried an Antifa flag and told the churchgoers “this is a communist revolution” before unloading on the congregation, reloading several times.

As of this writing little is known about Devin Kelley or his motivation for attacking a church, but neither police nor any reputable news organization has offered a desire "to start a civil war by targeting white conservative churches” as a motive for the shooting, nor reported that Kelley carried an Antifa flag and told churchgoers that he was participating in “a communist revolution”:

Preliminary news reports suggested instead that law enforcement had few clues to explain why Kelley went on a shooting rampage or targeted the church in Sutherland Springs:

Few clues were initially made public on a possible motive or what made Kelley target a church in tiny Sutherland Springs. His in-laws had attended the church at some point, said Joe D. Tackitt, Jr., the Wilson County sheriff. They were not present Sunday and only came to the scene later after hearing the news he said.

“There must have been some reason he came here, but we don’t know,” Tackitt said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) suggested that “there may have been a reason why this particular location was targeted,” though he did not go into detail, saying that the details could emerge in the coming hours or days.

“I don’t think this is a random act of shooting, a randomly chosen location, but obviously someone who is very deranged,” Abbott said in an interview on the “Today” show.

Antifa United declared that the purported image of Devin Kelley's Facebook page, which includes an Antifa flag, was likewise a fabrication:

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.