Truth in a Post-Truth Era: Sandy Hook Families Sue Alex Jones, Conspiracy Theorist

By Elizabeth Williamson
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

WASHINGTON — After the body of Jesse Lewis, age 6, was recovered from his classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, his father, Neil Heslin, cradled him for a final time. At the top of Jesse’s forehead was the gunshot wound that ended his life. "It meant a lot to be able to see him," Mr. Heslin said in an interview. "When he was born, I was the first to see him, and I was the last one to hold him."

Alex Jones, an online conspiracy theorist whose InfoWars website is viewed by millions, seized on this agonizing recollection to repeat the bizarre falsehood that the 2012 shooting that killed 20 first graders and six adults at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., was an elaborate hoax invented by government-backed "gun grabbers."

On his radio show, Mr. Jones said Mr. Heslin needed to clarify "because the coroner said no, the parents weren’t allowed to have touched the kids or have seen the kids." He played a video in which the InfoWars "reporter" Owen Shroyer says of Mr. Heslin, "He’s claiming that he held his son and saw the bullet hole in his head."

"That is not possible," Mr. Shroyer said.

More than five years after one of the most horrific mass shootings in modern history, the families of Sandy Hook victims are still enduring daily threats and online abuse from people who believe bogus theories spread by Mr. Jones, whom President Trump has praised for his "amazing" reputation.