On Sunday, 26 people were killed and around 20 others were injured after a man opened fire inside a church sanctuary in rural Sunderland Springs, Texas. The shooting at the First Baptist Church started not long after Sunday morning service began at 11 a.m. The gunman, who has been identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, was later found dead in his car. As the details unfolded, some reports were completely false. Here are three pieces of “fake news.”
1. Kelley carried an Antifa flag into the church and told churchgoers “this is a communist revolution.”
Snopes debunked this claim, stating that several (unreliable) news sources tried to link the shooter with Antifa. One report allegedly and falsely stated, "The gunman who opened fire inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, has been identified as Devin Kelley, an Antifa member who vowed to start a civil war by “targeting white conservative churches” and causing anarchy in the United States. Devin Kelley, who killed at least 27 people and injured many more, was one of two shooters in the church, according to eyewitnesses, who also report Kelley carried an Antifa flag and told the churchgoers “this is a communist revolution” before unloading on the congregation, reloading several times."
An image of Kelley’s Facebook has circulated online with the image of Antifa flag as Kelley’s cover photo. Antifa United put out a statement that the image was fabricated.
2. There were two shooters.
There is no evidence to support this, despite some sources stating that eyewitnesses thought there were two shooters.
3. The shooter was Sam Hyde, a name used in an alt-right meme.
Congressman Vicente Gonzalez of Texas gave the wrong name of the Texas church shooter in the hours after the tragedy. During a phone interview with CNN Gonzalez said, “It was reported to me that he's actually not from this community. Apparently, his name was released as Sam Hyde, that was the name I was given.”
The name he was given was wrong. Hyde is actually a meme that stemmed from 4Chan and Reddit. Trolls, and often alt-right trolls have attempted to get media to report Hyde as the shooter of other publicized mass shootings. According to the Daily Mail, Hyde was erroneously blamed for the 2015 San Bernardino attack, the 2016 UCLA shooting, the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting the 2016 Kalamazoo shootings, the 2017 Las Vegas Strip shooting and many others.