‘Fake news’ strikes again: Woman accused of believing hoax, threatening Sandy Hook parent

·Managing Editor
People attend an open house at the new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. (Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP)
People attend an open house at the new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. (Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP)

Federal authorities indicted a Tampa, Fla., woman on Wednesday, accusing her of issuing death threats to a parent whose child died in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.

According to the indictment, Lucy Richards believed that the school shooting was a hoax. She is accused of sending messages like “you gonna die, death is coming to you real soon” and “LOOK BEHIND YOU IT IS DEATH” to the unnamed parent, who now lives in Florida.

A fringe conspiracy theory denies the authenticity of the Sandy Hook massacre, which shocked the nation Dec. 14, 2012. Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 young children and six adults before killing himself at the Newton, Conn., school. The shooting led to a renewed push for federal gun control legislation, which is at the center of some of the conspiracy theories about the massacre.

Among the people who have questioned the shooting is talk radio host Alex Jones, who interviewed President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign. Jones, a prominent conspiracy theorist, said Trump called and thanked him after winning the election.

“I don’t know what the truth is. All I know, the official story of Sandy Hook has more holes in it than Swiss cheese,” Jones said on his radio show last month while denying that he has deliberately labeled the shooting a hoax.

A hoax is also allegedly responsible for an incident on Sunday in which a man walked into a Washington, D.C., pizzeria and started shooting. According to police, the 28-year-old gunman, Edgar Maddison Welch, said he wanted to “self-investigate” a conspiracy theory accusing the pizzeria of being the center of a sex ring involving Hillary Clinton and her campaign chair.

The “fake news” industry has been in the spotlight since the November election, which featured a number of viral, false stories about the race. The fictitious news articles took off on platforms like Facebook and Google.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office in South Florida, Richards was arrested Monday and charged Wednesday with four counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce. Each count carries a maximum term of five years in prison.