The conspiracy theories being spread about the Las Vegas massacre

The conspiracy theories being spread about the Las Vegas massacre

››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

After a mass shooting in Las Vegas, NV, left at least 58 people dead and more than 500 injured, far-right media, fake news purveyors, and fringe sources including 4chan and 8chan engaged in and spread many conspiracy theories about the shooting including that the gunman may have had an accomplice and was connected to ISIS, antifa, and/or former President Barack Obama.

WARNING: This post contains extremely graphic images of a corpse.

Conspiracy theory: Shooter was an undercover agent of an intelligence agency who botched a gunrunning sting

Conspiracy theory: Shooting was a “false flag” attack from the “deep state,” “Obama shadow government,” and/or “Bolshevik” revolutionaries

Conspiracy theory: Shooting is linked to Las Vegas labor unions

Conspiracy theory: MGM Resorts International is destroying evidence of the crime

Conspiracy theory: Shooter may have been tied to ISIS and/or antifa

Conspiracy theory: Shooter did not act alone

Conspiracy theory: Shooter’s suicide was staged by police

Conspiracy theory: Shooter hated Trump and sought revenge against Trump supporters

Conspiracy theory: Shooter was not Stephen Paddock

Conspiracy theory: Shooting was a plot to push security devices like metal detectors

Conspiracy theory: Shooting might have been connected to O.J. Simpson’s release from prison

Conspiracy theory: Las Vegas was "actually supposed to be nuked"

Mass shooting in Las Vegas kills 58 and injures nearly 500 people in “nine to 11 minutes”

At least 58 killed and 500 wounded in deadliest single-attacker mass shooting in US history. On October 1, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, NV, killed at least 58 people and injured another 500 at a country music concert at the Route 19 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. With an arsenal of no fewer than 12 semi-automatic rifles modified with “bump-fire stocks -- legal devices that enable a shooter to fire bullets rapidly, similar to an automatic rifle,” Paddock fired on the crowd for “nine to 11 minutes” from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel until police were able to enter the suite, where they found Paddock dead of an apparent suicide. From the October 4 CNN article:

Why did Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant, fire from his 32nd-floor hotel window into a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers in the heart of Las Vegas?

Why did he continue firing with an arsenal of weapons for nine to 11 minutes, leaving at least 58 people dead and more than 500 with gunshot wounds or stampede injuries?

[...]

Paddock had an arsenal of weapons in his hotel suite, including bump-fire stocks -- legal devices that enable a shooter to fire bullets rapidly, similar to an automatic rifle.

He had outfitted 12 of his firearms with the bump stocks, said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

[...]

The hail of gunfire stopped when security guards approached Paddock's room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, McMahill said. Paddock turned his attention to those outside his door and fired, wounding one of them.

The guard was "very heroic" and provided police with information about the shooter's location, [Clark County Undersheriff Kevin] McMahill said. When officers entered the hotel room, they found Paddock dead. Authorities believe he killed himself. [CNN, 10/4/17]

Nonsense conspiracy theories attempt to implicate Obama, labor unions, the FBI, and more in the Las Vegas massacre

Conspiracy theory: Shooter was an undercover agent of an intelligence agency who botched a gunrunning sting

Fake news purveyor Before It’s News claimed that the Las Vegas shooting was “a gun running entrapment scheme similar to Fast and Furious” gone wrong. On October 2, fake news purveyor BeforeItsNews.com published an article claiming that “Stephen Paddock was an undercover FBI agent who participated in multiple illegal arms deals in the Las Vegas area in a gun running entrapment scheme similar to Fast and Furious,” and that when “ISIS operatives who were going to meet him learned about the entrapment scheme,” they “killed him and carried out the massacre and then fled the scene.” The website acknowledged that the claim could be “disinformation” but spun it into another conspiracy theory by stating the disinformation could be “put out by Intel agencies to muddy the waters.” From October 2 post:

“The LVMPD knows the motive behind the attack, but the FBI will not allow us to release the motive because it implicates the FBI in illegal arms deals ands supplying arms to ISIS terrorist within U.S. borders”

“Stephen Paddock was an undercover FBI agent who participated in multiple illegal arms deals in the Las Vegas area in a gun running entrapment scheme similar to Fast and Furious. Paddock thought he was engaging in another routine arms transfer, but ISIS operatives who were going to meet him learned about the entrapment scheme and Paddocks’ true identity. They killed him and carried out the massacre and then fled the scene. Leland Yes has a lot to do with this.”

“Everything is being kept under extreme wraps because 1) armed ISIS terrorists are still at large and 2) this is very embarrassing to the FBI and they don’t want their scheme to become public knowledge.”

“I will be sending you further information throughout the day, people within LVMP are disgusted for this information to be released to the public” [Before It’s News 10/2/17]

A 4chan thread also claimed the massacre happened after Paddock’s cover as a government agent was exposed. On October 4, a 4chan thread posited that Paddock was “FBI, may be actual agency,” a reference to the CIA, and that he was in Las Vegas the weekend of the shooting to make a sale to nondescript “gun runners.” The thread alleged that “whatever the reason [the] deal goes to drek,” and put forth a number of different explanations for how the massacre happened, including allegations he was framed or “part of [a] larger op[eration]”:

[4chan, 10/4/17]

Yet another 4chan “arms deal theory” speculated that “ISIS niggers” discovered “Vegas Steve [was] working for the FBI,” killed him, then went “full Allah Akbar out the window.” Another 4chan thread about the so-called “arms deal theory” also speculated that Paddock was an FBI agent on an arms sale sting attempting to catch ISIS agents. However, ISIS discovered “Vegas Steve” was an FBI agent, killed him, then went “full Allah Akbar out the window.” The thread further speculated that “the FBI shat their pants and told everyone to stand down since they knew the firepower in the room … which is why [Las Vegas SWAT teams] spent an hour ‘searching room to room.’” The original post concluded that the “ISIS niggers” who committed the attack were “arrested but black bagged instead of booked” to help the FBI, which is “desperately” trying to cover it up. [4chan, 10/5/17]

A separate 4chan thread claimed Paddock “was being used by the CIA to run guns to the phillipines [sic] … to overthrow [Philippine President Rodrigo] Duterte” and reclaim the CIA’s illegal drug market. An October 4 thread on 4chan claimed that “Stephen Paddock was being used by the CIA to run guns to the phillipines (sic) with his double identity gf to overthrow Duterte because his hardcore anti-drug policies leave nothing for the CIA underground blackmarket to tax.” As proof, the thread cited an unsourced screenshot claiming the Federal Aviation Agency has deleted the registration of one of Paddock’s private planes.

​[4chan, 10/4/17, 10/4/17]

New Fox News prime-time host Laura Ingraham suggested “someone who worked for the CIA, NSA” or “a military sniper” would have been capable of the Las Vegas attack, but not “just a mail carrier.” Laura Ingraham, right-wing talk radio host and upcoming host of Fox News’ new primetime show The Ingraham Angle, spent nearly seven minutes of her October 4 broadcast speculating about multiple conspiracy theories surrounding Las Vegas shooting, because, according to her, “it’s all very curious.” In particular, Ingraham suggested the surveillance set up by the shooter meant that the killer was “an expert in the intelligence community,” or even “a military sniper,” suggesting that someone with Paddock’s limited government experience would not be able to commit the massacre:

RAYMOND ARROYO: How could the guy have set up cameras on a rolling cart in a hallway and escape detection? I don't understand. That’s odd.

LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): I think someone could do that --

ARROYO: A team could do it.

INGRAHAM: -- who was an expert in the intelligence community. Someone who worked for the CIA, NSA, someone who understood intelligence gathering, strategies, someone with a background, a military sniper. But not -- some guy who’s just a mail carrier who liked to play video poker? It's all very curious.

ARROYO: He worked for the IRS for a little while --

INGRAHAM: A little stint at Raytheon. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 10/4/17]

Conspiracy theory: Shooting was a “false flag” attack from the “deep state,” “Obama shadow government,” and/or “Bolshevik” revolutionaries

Alex Jones said the shooting “has the hallmarks of being scripted by deep state Democrats and their Islamic allies,” as well as “Bolshevik” revolutionaries. On the October 2 edition of The Alex Jones Show, host Alex Jones claimed the Las Vegas shooting “has the hallmarks of being scripted by deep state Democrats and their Islamic allies.” Jones also tried to connect the shooting to rumors of a nationwide protest of antifa -- the far-left-leaning militant groups that resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists -- on November 4, claiming, “The literal grandchildren of the folks that financed the Bolshevik Revolution out of New York and London are now bragging saying Bolshevik 2 is launching”:

ALEX JONES (HOST): The literal grandchildren of the folks that financed the Bolshevik Revolution out of New York and London are now bragging saying Bolshevik 2 is launching. I told you over and over again that I believe their November 4th launch terror date was a smokescreen for them to begin launching terror attacks in October. They will get successively more intense until you basically come punch-drunk to them, then they’ll launch their main attack.

Here’s the other big news. On Saturday night, Monday morning -- Sunday morning, they released O.J. [Simpson] just 20 hours before the attack took place so all the media would come and be in place to cover this event. The whole thing has the hallmarks of being scripted by deep state Democrats and their Islamic allies using mental patient cut-outs. I’m Alex Jones. [Genesis Communications Networks, The Alex Jones Show, 10/2/17]

Pro-Trump Twitter troll Liz Crokin theorized that Trump’s “miracle” comment was a “stab at the deep state” which is responsible. On October 4, a Twitter user posted a screenshot of a post on Liz Crokin’s Facebook account alleging that President Donald Trump’s tweet that “it is a ‘miracle’ how fast” the police were able to find and stop the shooter was Trump “trying to send a message.” Crokin claimed that the president put the word “miracle” “in quotes for sarcasm to take a stab at the Deep State,” because “he knows this was a false flag and the shooter was a patsy.”

[Twitter, 10/4/17, 10/4/17]

“Investigative journalist” and far-right troll Laura Loomer claimed the “Federal Bureau of Islam” and other organs of “the deep state” are covering up that the shooting “was a terrorist attack.”

[Twitter, 10/3/17, 10/3/17, 10/4/17]

Fake news purveyor Freedom Daily attempted to connect Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to the shooting. In an article titled “Obama Suddenly Silent On Shooting After SICK Connection To Him Was Found In Killer’s Hotel Room,” fake news purveyor Freedom Daily pushed a conspiracy theory that the shooter had “direct ties to Obama” and that “Obama has the blood of Americans on his hands yet again.” The article also attempted to implicate Obama and former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, claiming they had direct ties to the “Antifa terrorists” and pushed another conspiracy theory that Clinton was “busted for giving Antifa terrorists around $800,000,” echoing an earlier and already-debunked conspiracy theory that the Clinton Foundation donated $7.1 million to antifa. [Freedom Daily, accessed 10/4/17; Snopes, 9/27/17]

Several 4chan posts blamed Jews for the shooting. One October 5 4chan thread superimposed a Star of David over an alleged map of the “last 6 mass shootings on the U.S. soil,” with the comment that “(((they))) don’t even hide anymore,” the parentheses being a reference to an anti-Semitic punctuation meme that shows that “the supposed damage caused by Jewish people reverberates from decade to decade.” A post in a different thread about general speculation commented that “communist” elements and “Undercover Antifa” were likely involved, and the post included an image with the filename “Jewish-Antifa.”

[4chan, 10/5/17, 10/5/17; New York magazine, 6/2/16]

A 4chan thread said the “fucking Saudis” were involved in the massacre, potentially with the help of Bill Gates. An October 5 4chan thread stated that the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Las Vegas division, Aaron Rouse, “will not be allowed to cover up what happened in Las Vegas,” because there’s “a hotel within the hotel”: “The Four Seasons is located on floors 35 to 39 of the Mandalay Bay,” and Saudi “Prince Alwaleed bin Talal owns the hotel.” The thread included a litany of unsupported claims, including that “foreign nationals had rooms booked” during the shooting, “high ranking members of the Saudi Air Force [were] in Las Vegas for the entire month of August,” and a “VIP” was supposedly “extracted that night.” 

When another user asked “is Bill Gates involved,” the original poster replied, “He owns a share of the Four Seasons and Alwaleed is heavily involved in the Gates Foundation.” An 8chan thread laid very similar allegations, except it also claimed the Saudis responsible were co-conspirators with Jewish influence. [4chan, 10/5/17; 8chan, 10/5/17; New York magazine, 6/2/16

Conspiracy theory: Shooting is linked to Las Vegas labor unions

Loomer claimed “every [MGM union] office door has a picture of a Muslim woman taped to the office doors.” Loomer cited a “source” as she wrote on Twitter that MGM union gave its members “10 weeks paid leave” during the Clinton presidential campaign. She also attempted to implicate MGM union in the Las Vegas shooting, because “every [MGM union] office door has a picture of a Muslim woman taped” to it:

[Twitter, 10/4/17, 10/4/17]

Conspiracy theory: MGM Resorts International is destroying evidence of the crime

Loomer accused MGM Resorts International of “deleting evidence of #StephenPaddock's reservation records.”

[Twitter, 10/3/17, 10/3/17]

Loomer alleged there may be a “motive” in the professional affiliations of MGM CEO James Murren and his wife, Heather.

[Twitter, 10/3/17, 10/4/17, 10/4/17]

Conspiracy theory: Shooter may have been tied to ISIS and/or antifa

Rush Limbaugh dismissed law enforcement claims that ISIS was not involved because of Benghazi. On the October 4 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh devoted several minutes to open speculation about the circumstances and potential motives of the gunman. Regarding authorities’ assertions that they have found no evidence of ISIS involvement, Limbaugh dismissed their “ontological certitude” because “go to Benghazi: ‘What we saw here was not militant Islamic terrorism. It was a riot because of a video.’”

RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): Obviously, they don’t have anything dead solid they want to hang their hats on. But we have been told every time it has come up -- we’ve been told, no, no, no, no, no, no, nope, nope, nope, ISIS is wrong. ISIS had nothing to do with this. They have been saying so with ontological certitude.

You know, it’s amazing. This happens -- 59 dead, over 500 wounded. Within hours: “This is not militant Islamic terrorism.” Go to Benghazi: “What we saw here was not militant Islamic terrorism. It was a riot because of a video.” These people -- I am not talking about the sheriff -- these people don't have a lot of credibility here, especially Hillary Clinton, who's speaking in continued bromines right out of the Democratic Party playbook with nothing unique and nothing individual. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/4/17]

Fake news purveyor The Political Insider wildly speculated that the shooter wired $100,000 to “Abu Sayaff, ISIS’ franchise in the Philippines.” Though fake news purveyor The Political Insider conceded that the Las Vegas gunman “certainly doesn’t fit the mold of your average jihadist,” the outlet claimed that the gunman wired “tens of thousands of dollars” to the Philippines, citing it as potential evidence that he might have been “helping fund Abu Sayaff, ISIS’ franchise in the Philippines”:

According to Fox News, “the Las Vegas shooter sent tens of thousands of dollars ‘overseas,’ federal law enforcement officials told Fox News Tuesday. The revelation comes amid questions about the whereabouts of Stephen Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who left the U.S. before Paddock committed the horrific attack that killed 59 and injured at least 515 others.“

The report continues: “Investigators are looking into whether Paddock sent the cash to Danley amid conflicting reports she’s in either the Philippines or Japan, the officials said. They noted the money crossing hands was a significant amount and authorities were trying to uncover who received the cash and where it currently is. It was not immediately clear when the money was transferred.”

As a former accountant, he certainly would’ve been aware that any transactions over $10,000 would be flagged. That’s why he sent them in spurts.

Who could he have been sending money to? If there was any actual evidence of an ISIS link, I’d be tempted to say he was helping fund Abu Sayaff, ISIS’ franchise in the Philippines, but we simply don’t know.

Yet. [The Political Insider, 10/3/17]
 

Infowars repeatedly suggested the shooter was associated with antifa and radicalized by ISIS. An October 3 Infowars article titled “Antifa receiving military training in Syria -- Vegas shooter’s girlfriend travelled to Middle East” attempted to claim that a trip by the shooter’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, to Dubai meant that the shooter had been radicalized by ISIS. Infowars also misleadingly interpreted the Clark County sheriff’s initial refusal to rule out ISIS as a suggestion that ISIS was responsible. Infowars has repeatedly claimed that the FBI found “Antifa literature, photos taken in the Middle East “ in Paddock’s hotel suite. Additionally, Infowars promoted a Periscope video featuring “alt-right” troll and self-professed “national security reporter” Mike Cernovich discussing an ISIS/antifa link. [Infowars, 10/2/17, 10/3/17, 10/4/17; Twitter, 10/2/17, accessed 10/4/17]

Fake news purveyor YourNewsWire claimed the gunman “was an Antifa member who was also linked with ISIS.” YourNewsWire.com published an October 2 story replete with conspiracy theories but focused on the Infowars-sourced claim that “Paddock was in possession of photographs taken in the Middle-East” and the photos meant the FBI “fear[ed] the ‘domestic terror event’ is the first act of war undertaken by ‘domestic terrorists Antifa’ against the United States.” The article also accepted and circulated ISIS’ questionable claim of responsibility. [YourNewsWire, 10/2/17; Snopes, 10/2/17]

Loomer greeted ISIS’ claim of responsibility by saying it was “just like I said: #ISIS.”

[Twitter, 10/3/17]

Loomer suggested that because the shooter’s girlfriend is Filipino, the money he wired likely went to ISIS. Loomer’s tweet also claimed that the ISIS connection likely meant that Danley would not return to the United States. She returned today, to speak with the FBI.

[Twitter, 10/3/17; The New York Times, 10/4/17]

Drudge Report promoted Infowars’ claims that the shooter was radicalized. Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson subsequently shared Drudge’s circulation of the Infowars link as a “huge development.”.

[Twitter, 10/4/17]

A 4chan post claimed Paddock was an ISIS agent and authorities are lying about the investigation because they’re “ashamed” they “did nothing about it.” In a 4chan thread dedicated to speculating about the shooter’s motives, one anonymous user claimed, “The only two reasons [investigators] wouldn't be telling us the truth is because they're either afraid it will cause panic or they're ashamed of something.” The user continued that “Paddock was ISIS, they knew of him, did nothing about it. So they're going to try to round up a dozen ‘accomplices’ before admitting that he was a jihadist to make it look like they've actually saved lives.” [4chan, 10/5/17]

Conspiracy theory: Shooter did not act alone

Infowars and Laura Loomer used a room service receipt to suggest the shooter may have had an accomplice. Infowars obtained a copy of a room service receipt, purporting to be from September 27 -- one day before the gunman checked into the suite -- showing “the number ‘2’ next to the word ‘Guests’.” The Infowars article cites a tweet from Laura Loomer, who separately claimed her “source who works at @MandalayBay” gave her proof Paddock had been in the suite “since Sep. 25th” and got “tons of room charges,” including “room service ... from The Citizens restaurant.” The receipt claim was also picked up by repeat liar Jim Hoft of The Gateway Pundit. [Infowars, 10/4/17; The Gateway Pundit, accessed 10/4/17; Media Matters, 1/25/17]

The Drudge Report also heavily promoted Infowars’ claims of “another guest” in Paddock’s room.

[The Drudge Report, 10/4/17; Twitter, 10/4/17]

A 4chan thread echoed Loomer/Infowars’ claim that “Stephen Paddock's restaurant receipts show that he was not alone on the 27th,” and asked, “Who was with him?”

[4chan, 10/4/17]

An 8chan thread trumpeted that there “definitely was two shooters.” A thread on 8chan’s “/pol/” (“politically incorrect”) board claimed to have video evidence, posted on YouTube, of “TWO (2) SHOOTERS AT MANDALAY BAY,” citing audio of gunshots that seemed to alternate between being “extremely close” to and “distant” from the perspective of the camera. The post dismissed out of hand the notion that the “distant” sounds could have easily been echoes of the sole shooter’s gunfire. [8chan, 10/3/17]

Conspiracy theory: Shooter’s suicide was staged by police

Loomer repeatedly posted extremely graphic images of the deceased gunman to accuse police of fabricating his suicide.

[Twitter, 10/3/17, 10/3/17, 10/3/17]

A 4chan user claiming to be an FBI agent said it only “look[ed] like” the shooter killed himself because he “coughed up a lot of blood” after law enforcement shot him, and that police didn’t want “another ‘police shooting’ story in the media.” On October 4, a 4chan thread started by a self-professed “FBI HRT” (FBI Hostage Rescue Team) member claimed the photo of the deceased gunman showed “a bullet hole on his shirt around the chest / hear (sic) region,” causing the shooter to have “coughed up a lot of blood, thus making it look like he killed himself.” The same user later posted in the thread that “The brass wouldn't like another ‘police shooting’ story in the media even though this is 100% justifiable. It's easier to say that he killed himself instead.” [4chan, 10/4/17]

A user in a 4chan thread drew several colored circles on a photo of Paddock’s corpse to claim it was staged. An October 5 thread on 4chan provided an “enhanced version” of the photo of Paddock’s corpse to purportedly allow “for better sight at blood patterns.” The poster drew green, orange, yellow, and blue lines around the image to claim Paddock “was grabbed by [the] collar,” then “hit in the back of the head and fell to [the] ground” where the “fatal shot occurred.” The post also claimed to identify “internal bleeding from [a] gut/chest gunshot” and a fabricated blood trail from the shooter to a nearby firearm. 

[4chan, 10/5/17

Another 4chan thread suggested Paddock did not actually commit suicide asking, “why off yourself with 14,000 rounds left?”

[4chan,10/5/17]

Laura Ingraham suggested photos of Las Vegas gunman’s room were staged because “it does look like a scene from a Law & Order” episode. On the October 5 edition of her radio show, Ingraham claimed photos of the shooter’s room “were selectively leaked” to the media and “look[ed] like a scene from a Law & Order” episode because everything is “perfectly laid down.” Ingraham implied that these selective photos were staged and leaked to support Democrats who were “speaking from the same [gun control] script” since the attack. Ingraham also baselessly suggested that the shooter was inexperienced with firearms and “clearly in poor health” to cast doubt on the possibility he acted alone. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 10/5/17]

Conspiracy theory: Shooter hated Trump and sought revenge against Trump supporters

Alex Jones promoted claim that the shooter was “angry about Trump.” Only “about 20 minutes” after ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting, Alex Jones said on the October 2 edition of Genesis Communications Networks’ Real News with David Knight that “the reported shooter ... was basically a leftist,” “converted to Islam,” and “was so angry about Trump and everything that was happening that he went out and carried out this attack.” [Genesis Communications Networks, Real News with David Knight, 10/2/17]

Infowars cited a Fox & Friends guest to claim the shooter “may have deliberately targeted conservatives.” An October 3 Infowars article cited an appearance by “forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner” on the October 3 edition of Fox & Friends to allege that the gunman deliberately targeted conservatives. The psychiatrist claimed that “a spectacle” like the Las Vegas shooting “is either designed to cause some derivative impact or to instigate some cause discussion,” adding that “people who commit crimes for notoriety alone are young and he’s not.” Infowars also said Weiner said CNN is “partly” to blame for the massacre. The appearance was similarly reported on by repeatedly wrong far-right outlet The Gateway Pundit. [Infowars, 10/3/17; The Gateway Pundit, 10/4/17]

Infowars cited a second Fox News appearance to bolster its claims that the attack targeted conservatives. An October 4 Infowars article claiming the shooting “targeted [a] country music concert to kill Trump supporters” and cited Fox News analyst/retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, who told Martha MacCallum on October 3’s The Story, “After talking to a psychological professional and some other folks in law enforcement, there’s a lot of parallels” between Paddock and James Hodgkinson, a man troubled by Trump who attempted to assassinate House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) in June. Shaffer went on to allege that the shooter saw the concert as “a legitimate target of political expression” and that “the left has now encouraged the use of violence as an extension and use of political speech,” citing “stunts like Kathy Griffin’s ‘beheading’ of Trump” as evidence. [Infowars, 10/4/17; The Washington Post, 6/14/17]

Sentenced felon Dinesh D’Souza said the shooter’s “anti-Trump” tendencies might “explain why the mainstream media is so cagey about his background.” Dinesh D’Souza also claimed that the gunman’s “choice of country music concert fans as a target may provide a clue to his ideology.”

[Twitter, 10/3/17, 10/2/17; Vanity Fair, May 2015]

Noted Islamophobe Pamela Geller claimed a blurry photo of an old white man at an anti-Trump rally was the Las Vegas gunman. In an October 2 post on her website, Pamela Geller claimed she had found “footage of Vegas attacker Stephen Paddock at an anti-Trump protest.” Geller’s only commentary was “Not surprising. Pussyhat and all,” referring to the pink knit cap that the man pictured can be seen wearing in the video. Geller later added that the video was “taken down” but encouraged her readers to “look at this,” referring to more blurry screencaps of a white man who vaguely resembles Paddock. [Geller Report, 10/2/17; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 10/4/17]

Conspiracy theory: Shooter was not Stephen Paddock

Shortly after the shooting, Gateway Pundit falsely accused an innocent man of being the gunman, then defended its reporting. Citing a torrent of false claims from 4chan in the immediate aftermath of the massacre, The Gateway Pundit wrongly accused the wrong man (Media Matters is not publishing his name) of having committed the shooting. When The Gateway Pundit’s reporting fell apart, rather than accept full responsibility, reporter Lucian Wintrich admitted his false claim was from 4chan, but pivoted to attacking the mainstream media for focusing on the erroneous reporting instead of “talking about potentially a white guy being radicalized by ISIS.” [Media Matters, 10/2/17, 10/2/17]

An 8chan thread cited Paddock’s alleged neighbor to claim he was a Trump supporter and suggest he could not have committed the massacre. An October 4 8chan thread characterized a caller on the “Savage radio show” who professed to have been Paddock’s neighbor and friend as claiming that Paddock “was a Trump supporter, reckons [law enforcement] are making a patsy out of him.” The post further alleged that this “could be CIA-nigger propaganda.” [8chan, 10/4/17]

Conspiracy theory: Shooting was a plot to push security devices like metal detectors

“An anonymous user on /pol/ predicted a shooting in Las Vegas and discussed the reasons behind it.” On October 3, “alt-right” conspiracy theorist Mike Tokes tweeted screenshots of a 4chan thread from September 10 that he suggested predicted the Las Vegas massacre. The 4chan discussion suggested that an incident would be staged in order to catalyze a push for safety measures like metal detectors. [Twitter, 10/3/17; Periscope, 9/28/17]

Conspiracy theory: Shooting might have been connected to O.J. Simpson’s release from prison

Infowars.com suggested O.J. Simpson release was manipulated to ensure media was present in Las Vegas for the massacre. Infowars.com noted that O.J. Simpson was “oddly released” on Saturday night and suggested it was done intentionally in order to force the media to be present in Las Vegas at the time of the shooting. [Infowars.com, 10/2/17]

Conspiracy theory: Las Vegas was "actually supposed to be nuked"

A convoluted 4chan thread claimed “Vegas was actually supposed to be nuked,” until “Blackwater” thwarted “armageddon,” and Caesar’s Palace had something to do with it. An October 5 4chan thread asserted that the shooting “was a coverup not [a] false flag.” The original post claimed that “Blackwater” -- a reference to the military company Blackwater USA, which is now doing business as Academi -- “was there to escort [a] VIP,” and “Vegas was actually supposed to be nuked.” The disjointed post also mentioned that Blackwater “was bought last year by Apollo Global Management LLC, and guess who they own.….. Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation,” a reference to the Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino, and that “according to -john, the owner of the buildings invested in body scan tech to implement everywere [sic] in vegas, and eventually everywhere else.” A separate post that the thread linked to claimed the shooter had “skill in confidence games, and eventually was recruited by an alphabet agency.” 

[4chan, 10/5/17, 10/4/17; The Nation, 3/15/15]

This post has been updated to include additional examples.

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