My name is Leonard Pozner, and I am the parent of a child who was murdered at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14th, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. After the horrific death of my 6-year-old son Noah, my family relocated to Boca Raton, FL, hoping to find a calm environment in which to heal.
Since then, I have been harassed repeatedly and relentlessly; online, over the phone, and even in person. The harassment comes at the hands of all manner of unhinged conspiracy theorists, known as “Hoaxers,” who believe the shooting was a government-staged hoax in the interest of gun control, as well as sociopath internet trolls who achieve some warped sense of self-gratification by victimizing the bereft. But one of the worst and most surprising incidents, which subsequently triggered my diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder, was recently orchestrated by a member of the Boca Raton Police Department.
I have filed multiple reports of harassment, none of which have ever been followed up on. There was, however, a Hoaxer (who I do not know) who filed fraudulent police reports and CPS reports against me. My immediate response to these unfounded reports was to blog one sentence in my defense which was echoed across the internet. Shockingly, this resulted in disturbing phone calls from
Detective John Turek of Boca PD in which he threatened to arrest me if my factual, First Amendment protected post remained online.
Specifically, while demanding that I take down an internet post I had made defending myself, Detective Turek yelled (yes, yelled), “DON’T MAKE ME GO OVER THERE AND ARREST YOU PERSONALLY!” As well, he suggested that a more appropriate response on my part to my tormentor should be one of apathy, stating, “How about sticks and stones…” Sticks and stones? I find Detective Turek’s lack of empathy for my position and his menacing methods reprehensible. (Did he advise the same to Shirley Pantaleon-Nunez ?)
Adding insult to injury, the offending parties whom I was defending myself against have not experienced similar threats to their free speech, as their slanderous, defamatory posts remain intact.
The post which Detective Turek demanded I take down by a threat of arrest consisted of one sentence, including case number, name, and the explanation that the complaint was unsubstantiated. I feel that it was my right to defend myself from the slander and defamation that resulted from the utterly false claim and that the threat levied against me by Detective Turek was a possible violation of my First Amendment rights.
I have been very vocal in the media on all matters about the unfair treatment of victims of high profile mass casualty events. I even founded a group to help support victims of such events which has become my life’s work – HONR Network www.honr.com. To give you a sense of the kind of public interest my circumstances garner, articles and interviews that I’ve been involved in can be read here: www.honr.com/news.
While living in Boca Raton, a local Professor employed by Florida Atlantic University disseminated slanderous and defamatory rhetoric about the Sandy Hook families in online blogs, social media sites, and on video platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, claiming that my wife and I, as well as the other 19 sets of parents who lost first grade children in the massacre, were crisis actors hired by the government to dupe the public. He questioned whether my son died, or ever existed in the first place. He demanded proof of his existence and death and antagonized me online. His many followers took it upon themselves to harass and threaten my family as well as other families of the Sandy Hook victims. I made several complaints to Boca Raton law enforcement to no avail. The article below summarizes my plight with this individual, who only met with consequences to his actions after I took matters into my own hands.
Sadly, I no longer find peace living in Boca Raton, and now consider this a place where people can be easily targeted and abused by poorly trained police personnel. To put it lightly, I feel the situation with Detective Turek displayed a lack of sufficient training, a failure of appropriate and professional response, and a gross violation of my civil rights. Regrettably, I am now taking the necessary steps to leave Boca Raton, a place I came to in search of solace, due to the disappointing and distressing experiences I have suffered through here.
As the anniversary of the shooting nears the medias, interest becomes renewed. I am consistently sought out for interviews by various journalists, and I fully intend to discuss this unfortunate chapter of my life with any media outlet that is interested. I am appalled by the treatment my family, and I have received and the failure of law enforcement to protect us from those who seek to inflict further pain on victims of tragedy deliberately. I can only hope this will serve as a learning experience for all involved.