Tucson Shooting Conspiracy Theories Upset Victims

A medical helicopter evacuates victims from the shootings in Tucson on that deadly Saturday. REUTERS/KGUN9-TV


On fringe sites around the web, a new conspiracy theory is being cultivated: the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson, Arizona that took the lives of six and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), never actually took place.

According to the New York Times, believers of the theory, peddled primarily by conspiracy enthusiast Ed Chiarini, claim that the solemn day’s events were all part of an elaborate government hoax carried out by Tucson-area actors.

Their proof?

Proponents say a number of people who popped up in television reports after the shooting, including the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, supposedly looked like actors from the region, as well as from Hollywood.

To make these matters additionally upsetting to victims of the shooting, some believers in this movement have taken an aggressive approach in search of evidence to support their theory.

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New York Times Reports:

TUCSON — Television images of the chaotic scene after the Jan. 8 shootings here do not convince them. Neither do the funerals for the deceased, the scars of the wounded or the federal prosecution of the man accused of being the gunman.

No Actor: Christina Taylor Green was fatally shot that day. This little girl's family should be outraged by Ed Chiarini's false claims of this "elaborate hoax."

Some conspiracy Web sites are claiming that the shootings that nearly killed Representative Gabrielle Giffords and did end the lives of a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and four others never actually took place. One particularly bizarre site, run by a Texas man, says it was all a government hoax that used actors.

Such obviously fantastic claims would usually not merit the attention of law enforcement, but they have in this instance because some believers have been confronting, and alarming, some of the people associated with the case in recent weeks.

Richard Kastigar, investigative chief of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, said he passed information about the Web site to his intelligence unit. He reacted angrily to those denying the shootings. “There were bodies sent to the morgue, people’s loved ones,” Mr. Kastigar said.

Manuel J. Johnson, a spokesman for the F.B.I., said the bureau was aware of the site, but he declined to say whether an investigation was under way. One shooting victim said he notified the F.B.I. recently after two men showed up at his Tucson home claiming to be investigators and saying they were trying to determine whether the shooting was a hoax.

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