On 25 September 2014, the conspiracy theories that sprang up following the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre of December 2012 gained a bizarre new chapter, as the website InfoWars put forth a new claim. While the belief that the murders were a “false flag” attack is not novel, the site alleged that the FBI released a report proving that no one died that day in Newtown:
Example: [Collected via E-mail, September 2014]
Saw an FBI report for Connecticut for 2012 that listed no murders in Newtown, Connecticut. What about the 23 children that were supposedly killed at Sandy Hook Elementary? Interesting don’t you think!
Sandy Hook hoax theories are legion, although they mostly circle back to the general idea that the massacre was staged to drum up support for an eventual massive revocation of the right to bear arms. In the intervening years, no such “gun grabs” have come to fruition or even been attempted; but the notion of a Newtown conspiracy remains deeply entrenched in some corners of the web.
The InfoWars post published in September 2014 drilled down on new crime data provided by the FBI, making a specific observation about the lack of murders tallied in Newtown, Connecticut for 2012. The site outlines the general conspiracy first, explaining:
On December 14, 2012, the world watched in horror as the corporate media reported the deaths of 20 students and 6 staff members at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown at the hands of a deranged 20-year-old.Internet sleuths immediately took to the web to stitch together clues indicating the shooting could be a carefully-scripted false flag event, similar to the 9/11 terror attacks, the central tenet being that the event would be used to galvanize future support for gun control legislation. Two years later, and scores of politicians and gun control groups have cited the Sandy Hook incident as a pretext to curtail Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
It’s worth noting that the narrative subtly implies the media was “in on” the ruse, colluding with authorities (and locals, and law enforcement, and politicians, naturally) to bamboozle Americans out of their guns. Notable also is the suggestion that conspiracy buffs were invested in rooting out subterfuge (whether it existed or not), as well as the suggestion that gun restrictions were a risk after the killings. (No major legislation was passed in response to the event.)
The article goes on to note that a separate mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado in appear in FBI statistics, adding:
In contrast to the Connecticut report, the 2012 FBI crime report for the state of Colorado shows that 29 murders occurred in the town of Aurora that year, a figure which takes into account the number of people who died in the Century Theater during the premiere of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight film.
While those who question the official Sandy Hook story have largely been marginalized, the FBI’s own data is now seemingly substantiating their theories.
Of course, had the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting been staged deliberately to separate Americans from their guns, one would expect the FBI to be complicit. Should the statistics for crime in Newtown inadvertently reveal a conspiracy of heretofore unimaginable scope, that agency need only explain its oversight as a clerical error, which has not happened.
As it turns out, a recordkeeping anomaly of sorts is at the root of the FBI report’s dissonant statistics for the Sandy Hook massacre. If you followed news of the incident at the time, you may recall that Connecticut State Police (not local city or town police) managed the crime scene in the hours, days, and weeks after the event in Newtown. Accordingly, the Sandy Hook Elementary victims were included in Connecticut’s statewide records, but they were not tallied as crimes of any description in Newtown in 2012. Rather, the deaths were classified under “State Police Misc.” in separate records.
Although the state’s murder total was 146 that year, only 110 of those deaths were assigned to specific local jurisdictions in the FBI report. The statewide tally of 146 includes the 27 victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.