Families of Sandy Hook victims sue Infowars’ Alex Jones
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Six more families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victims sued right-wing radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for alleged defamation Wednesday for claiming the shooting was a hoax and the relatives are paid actors.
An FBI agent who responded to the shooting joined the families as a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in Bridgeport Superior Court in Connecticut. The families of two other victims filed similar defamation lawsuits against Jones last month in Travis County, Texas, where his media company, Infowars, is based.
A gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators at the Newtown, Connecticut, school on Dec. 14, 2012. The families say Jones’ comments have tormented them and subjected them to harassment and death threats by his followers.
“He knew his claims were false but he made them anyway to further a simple but pathetic goal: to make money by tearing away at the families’ pain,” said Josh Koskoff, a lawyer for the families. “This lawsuit seeks to hold Alex Jones and his financial network accountable for those disgraceful actions.”
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Jones did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday.
The lawsuit seeks monetary and punitive damages, attorney fees and other costs. It does not say exactly how much money the families are seeking.
After the first two lawsuits were filed last month, Jones responded in a YouTube video, saying that the families are being used by the Democratic Party and the news media and that he believes Sandy Hook “really happened.” He also invited parents who lost their children to his show to have a “real discussion” about guns, and said believes the lawsuits will be thrown out.
The plaintiffs include the parents of four children killed at the school — Daniel Barden, Dylan Hockley, Ben Wheeler and Avielle Richman. Also suing are relatives of two slain educators — school Principal Dawn Hochsprung and first-grade teacher Victoria Soto. FBI agent William Aldenberg, one of the first responders to the scene, also is a plaintiff.
Also named as defendants is Wolfgang Halbig, who the families say is a frequent guest on Jones’ show who also questions whether the school shooting actually happened.
Halbig, 71, a former police officer who lives in Sorrento, Florida, said Wednesday that he does believe people died in the shooting, but authorities have refused to answer his questions. He said police won’t give him a copy of radio transmissions from a state police helicopter that responded to the shooting, won’t say why paramedics and emergency medical technicians weren’t allowed in the school and won’t say who pronounced the deaths of all the children.
In separate lawsuits filed last month in Texas, the parents of slain children Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner sued Jones seeking more than $1 million in damages for alleged defamation.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday cites actions by Jones’ followers.
It mentions Edgar Maddison, a North Carolina man sentenced to prison for shooting up a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant in 2016, believing a conspiracy theory that prominent Democrats were harboring child sex slaves there. The lawsuit says Maddison had watched an Infowars video about the “pizzagate” conspiracy theory.
The lawsuit also cites the case of a Florida woman, Lucy Richards, who believed the shooting was a hoax and was sentenced to prison last year for threatening the father of one of the slain children.