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Two Sandy Hook families sue Alex Jones and Infowars for saying the school massacre never happened

Two Sandy Hook families sue Alex Jones and Infowars for saying the school massacre never happened
Alex Jones is accused of defaming the parents of children killed in the Newtown, Conn., school massacre by calling them “crisis actors” and insisting the shooting never happened. (Tamir Kalifa / Associated Press)

Families of two children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School have filed lawsuits in Texas against controversial radio host Alex Jones for continually claiming the massacre never happened.

Neil Heslin, the father of Jesse Lewis, and Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, whose son Noah Pozner died in the massacre, filed separate lawsuits late Monday in Travis County, Texas.

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The lawsuits allege that Jones defamed the parents by constantly calling them "crisis actors" and insisting the shooting was a "false flag" operation; they also claim Jones' accusations have led to death threats against the Sandy Hook families by Jones' followers.

The lawsuits were filed in Texas because Jones' media company, Infowars, is based in Austin. Both lawsuits are seeking more than $1 million in damages from Jones, Infowars and a related company, Free Speech Systems LLC. Infowars reporter Owen Shroyer is also named in the Heslin lawsuit.

Jones has been a controversial figure and one of the leading voices in the Sandy Hook "truther" movement, a group that claims the Dec. 14, 2012, mass shooting never occurred, the lawsuit said.

On Tuesday, Jones responded to the lawsuits with a 10-minute statement in which he said he believes the massacre did occur.

"I believe Sandy Hook happened, and early on I was being bullied by internet folks and others to say nobody died, and when I wouldn't say nobody died in the debates and I would actually side with those who said people did die, they would say I was a government agent, that I was a crisis actor," Jones said on his radio show.

Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders, inside the school that day using an AR-15 before killing himself with a handgun. He had killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in her bed before driving the short distance to the school.

Noah Pozner and Jesse Lewis were in separate classrooms.

Noah was in Lauren Rousseau's classroom, where 14 of the 15 children were killed as they tried to hide in a bathroom.

Jesse was in Victoria Soto's classroom, where five children died and several escaped when police believe Lanza's gun jammed and he stopped firing briefly to reload. Police believe Jesse told some of his classmates to run while Lanza reloaded.

Heslin's lawsuit names Shroyer for making the "heartless and vile" claim that Heslin lied during an interview with NBC News' Megyn Kelly about holding his dead son's body. The June 2017 segment profiled Jones. Kelly was roundly criticized by the families for giving Jones a national platform.

Heslin said on that show through tears that he "held my son with a bullet hole through his head" before he was buried.

In an Infowars show a few days after the Kelly segment aired, Shroyer said Heslin could not have held his son because victims were identified through photographs, not in person.

Neil Heslin, father of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Jesse Lewis, wipes away tears as he testifies before the Senate in 2013.
Neil Heslin, father of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Jesse Lewis, wipes away tears as he testifies before the Senate in 2013. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

But that claim is "manifestly false," according to the lawsuit. The children's bodies were eventually turned over to their parents for their funerals, the lawsuit said.

The second lawsuit by Pozner and De La Rosa, who were married at the time of the shooting, focuses on an April 2017 broadcast on Infowars where Jones discussed an interview De La Rosa gave to CNN's Anderson Cooper shortly after the tragedy near Edmond Town Hall in Newtown.

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Jones claimed the entire interview was fake because of the background screen during the interview.

"They're recycling a green, green screen behind them," Jones said, according to the lawsuit.

During another show in 2014, Jones said he had done his own research and concluded the shooting never happened.

"The whole thing is a giant hoax. How do you deal with a total hoax?" Jones said on his program, according to the lawsuit.

"It took me about a year with Sandy Hook to come to grips that the whole thing was fake. I did deep research," Jones said.

Both families are represented by Houston attorney Mark Bankston, who filed a previous lawsuit against Jones and Infowars for misidentifying the shooter in the recent Parkland, Fla., school shooting.

"The lawsuits address specific accusations made by Mr. Jones and InfoWars in 2017 that our clients were participants in a sinister cover-up at Sandy Hook," Bankston said Tuesday. "Those statements in 2017 were part of a long history of lies peddled by Jones. Our clients have been tormented for five years by Mr. Jones' ghoulish accusations that they are actors who faked their children's deaths as part of a fraud on the American people. Enough is enough."

Jones said on his radio show Tuesday that the Sandy Hook victims were being manipulated by Democrats and those who want to destroy the 2nd Amendment.

"I ask the families of Sandy Hook victims to actually admit that I have invited you on for years and admit that I have said for years that it really happened, and if I have caused you any pain by debating both sides of it I am sorry for your pain, but this is a big public event that has been seized on politically to take our rights," Jones said.

Altimari writes for the Hartford Courant.

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