Today marks the anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a tragedy that comes with a number of horrifying superlatives: the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, the third-deadliest shooting of any kind, and the first major American tragedy subjected to the full force of the internet’s conspiratorial machinery in real time.
Four years on, the genuinely crackpot notion that the attack was a staged hoax — that no one died — has persisted, and the harassment of victims and their families in the name of investigating the idea shows little sign of abating. In the past month, a 57-year-old Florida woman named Lucy Richards was indicted on charges of sending death threats to Lenny Pozner, whose son Noah was killed at Sandy Hook, and a hoaxer who lives in New York City was arrested on similar charges. Pozner, whom I wrote about this past summer, has devoted the last several years of his life to fighting Sandy Hook hoaxers like Richards and Wolfgang Halbig, a Florida man who has relentlessly pestered the town and its families for further proof that their children actually died. Last week, Halbig told me that he had decided to move to Newtown for six months, in order to further his investigation, and later sent an email to me and many others with his travel itinerary. On Facebook, he said he planned to be there for today’s moment of silence honoring the 26 murdered children and adults. Several Newtown residents told me that if Halbig does show up, they have plans for him, too.