The school shooting that left 20 students and six educators dead at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday was one of the most traumatic incidents in modern memory for Americans, and in the frenzied hours after the murders, reporting on the incident was spotty for some very good reasons — unfortunately, this circumstance has given rise to a number of Newtown conspiracy theories on the web including that of a second shooter at Sandy Hook as well as a connection to the global LIBOR scandal.
Before the internet, the horrible incident at Sandy Hook would have been reported and processed far differently — and therein lies a reason for the initial ambiguity. As we reported on the tragedy Friday, it immediately became clear that press knowledge of the events that day was actively being suppressed by first responders. The reason why seemed to become heartbreakingly discernable between one and two PM that afternoon when the number of victims was first reported — and around this time, reports of a second shooter in Newtown began to “fall off” from mainstream news sites.
Several hours after reports of a shooting at Sandy Hook materialized on the web, we learned that 20 children had been killed in the massacre. And it all slid into place as the scope of the grief to come became visible. For those 20 children, 40 parents had to be gathered and assembled — and it seems this correct measure taken to protect the families has helped give rise to Newtown web conspiracies, at least in part.
For many years, it has been standard law enforcement practice to never inform loved ones of deaths or serious accidents over the phone. Cops likely knew Newtown reports would be quickly spread through other means such as Twitter and Facebook, and presumably hoped to spare these 40 parents as well as the families of the six adult women killed the heartache of learning their child, wife or mother had been brutally murdered on a social network.
This cautious approach spread to all areas of the investigation, and media sources reporting on Newtown were subsequently tasked with reporting a breaking story in real time with scant information. Adding to both the confusion and reports of a second shooter at Sandy Hook elementary was the initial chaos at the scene as well as reports Adam Lanza carried brother Ryan Lanza’s identification — possibly leading to the initial misidentification of Ryan Lanza as the gunman.
Below, four of the most prominent Newtown conspiracy theories, and why they don’t wash.
A Second Shooter At Newtown
Above all, this is the most understandable yet still easily debunked aspects of the Sandy Hook Elementary School conspiracies. In the horrible first hours after the Newtown shootings, reports both from eyewitnesses as well as aerial view cameras on the scene seemed to indicate that a second shooter had been chased into the woods near Sandy Hook Elementary and apprehended.
An eyewitness report is often considered irrefutable, but the chaos and confusion that day is more than enough to account for many reports a second shooter was involved. Children who recalled seeing a man with a gun still patrolling after Adam Lanza died by his own hand could easily have confused similarly clad SWAT team members for shooters, particularly given the trauma they witnessed that day.
“Initial reports that a ‘second gunman’ arrested in the woods behind the school was involved in the massacre were later dropped without explanation.”
Several commenters on The Inquisitr have also indicated suspicion over these early reports, and the most simple explanation is that a story of this magnitude would be impossible to suppress. The scene that day was immediately descended upon by press, first responders, terrified school children and grieving parents.
It is in fact a parent that is believed to have inadvertently started the rumor about a Newtown second shooter, via actions any parent can fully understand. The Atlantic comes to the rescue:
“We admit it took a bit of digging to discover that others had figured out that the man in question was most likely Chris Manfredonia, the father of a Sandy Hook student, who attempted to sneak into the school after the shooting started. Police can be heard relaying his name over their radios, but few outlets managed to follow up with that detail.”
[Edit for clarity: The bit of information was a newsworthy addendum that was understandably lost in the massive amount of information since reported from Newtown. The “second shooter” issue also was not really a focal point for reporting after we learned there was one shooter, and at this point, the receding attention understandably given the aspect of the shooting’s timeline serves to “bolster” the intrigue about what was actually a very explainable misunderstanding.
The distraught parent also explains initial reports the shooter was a parent of a Sandy Hook student. Again, none of these things indicate anything other than initial reporting of an incomplete picture that had emerged, a circumstance the Connecticut State Police actively tried to prevent for this reason.]
Even if the Sandy Hook second shooter hadn’t been debunked, how would all those in view of the alleged Newtown second shooter be persuaded to keep quiet about the man who allegedly had a hand in this tragedy? To silence the hundreds present would assume none would ever confide to press, to a spouse or a close friend that the second culprit was kept secret. The sheer impossibility seems its own defense to the second shooter at Newtown claims.