Lucy Richards of Brandon, charged with sending threats to the parent of a Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victim, is wheeled away from court in Fort Lauderdale, on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (Jorge Milian / The Palm Beach Post)
Six-year-old Noah Pozner was shot and killed Dec. 14, 2012, one of 20 children and six adults murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Those are the facts.
But conspiracy theorists have long pushed the idea that the shootings were a hoax, part of a government plot to impose gun control. Some have gone out of their way to harass and troll the parents of Sandy Hook’s youngest victims online, accusing them of staging the massacre or demanding documentation of their children’s deaths.
Richards, a 57-year-old former waitress who gets around on a walker and lives off government assistance in the Tampa suburb of Brandon, is accused of sending death threats in January to Lenny Pozner, Noah’s father, when he was living in Palm Beach County. Pozner asked that The Post not identify the location of his current home for security reasons.
“I get threats all the time, people saying they want to harm me,” Pozner said.
Richards is among them, prosecutors testified during her arraignment Monday in U.S. District Court. They said Richards sent four messages to Pozner on a single day, all with a similar theme.
“You gonna die, death is coming to you real soon,” read one of the messages.
Pozner said he hopes the prosecution of Richards, who is free on $25,000 bond while facing four felony counts of transmitting threats, will give other so-called “truthers” pause.
“It’s raising awareness,” Pozner said. “People that would have made that threat before are now realizing there’s a limit as to what you can say and do.”
Pozner said he’s been on the receiving end of hate and abuse since 2013. He’s had his address published online, a video of his home posted to a social-media site and suffered all manner of harassment.
The heart of the problem, Pozner said, is not the people who spew hate, but organizations such as Facebook, YouTube, Google and Twitter that provide a platform and “are constantly re-victimizing me and adding to my pain.”
Those companies “have blood on their hands because they act like they’re outside the law,” Pozner said. “You can say anything you want on YouTube or Facebook and they will protect what you say as an expression of freedom of speech. They’ve enabled these people.”