On December 14th, 2012, 20 year old Adam Lanza entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where he shot and killed 20 children and six adult faculty members. Lanza was unable to be brought to justice after the shooting, as he turned the gun on himself as first responders arrived at the scene.
The shooting, which ranks as fourth-deadliest mass shooting in the United States, left behind a legacy similar to that of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in the conversations it sparked about gun control and mental health. After Sandy Hook, Maryland, Connecticut, and New York all passed laws relating to gun control and registration.
The incident attracted the attention of popular far-right podcaster Alex Jones, who ran the website Infowars. Jones, who was known for promoting conspiracy theories, alleged on his platform that the United States government had concealed information about or fabricated the shooting. He also claimed the existence of “crisis actors,” or people hired by the government to appear at the site of shootings and other incidents. Jones claimed the event was created by the government to stew hatred towards gun owners and ultimately take away their weapons, which would allow for further government control.
However, these theories would not go without repercussions. Last month Jones was taken to court in Connecticut by the families of the victims of the shootings, who argued that Jones had used the incident to drive traffic to his website and therefore make money off of the loss of life. Going off of this, the families argued that they had endured nearly a decade of hate campaigns and accusations of lying by Jones’s followers. The attorney of the families, Chris Mattei, stated to the jurors:
“Every single one of these families (was) drowning in grief, and Alex Jones put his foot right on top of them” –Chris Mattei (www.reuters.com )
Jones has now acknowledged that the shooting did in fact occur, but he has refused to apologize to the families and admit his part in the denying of the event. His refusal to budge on the issue during the three weeks of testimony is thought to have played a part in the hefty lawsuit that was handed to him, which, as of the 12th of October, 2022, is $965 billion. Jones is expected to pay the suit in full, as Connecticut does not place a cap on damages.
Whether or not the plaintiffs will receive this money is a different story. Jones’s company filed for bankruptcy in July, and the suit is estimated to be larger than his assets. While Jones has stated that he intends to keep Infowars afloat, the families involved in the case have stated they intend to go back to court if they feel the verdict isn’t enforced.