A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Another Bogus Parkland Conspiracy Theory


Q: Does searching an obituary website prove that there were no shooting deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14?

A: No. A website falsely suggests that there were no deaths because the victims’ obituaries couldn’t be found on one particular site.

FULL ANSWER

Each of the 17 people who died in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 has an obituary online. Some of them have more than one.

Newspapers across the country also have done memorial features on the victims.

But a website that posts conspiracy theories recently suggested that there were no obituaries for the victims of the shooting in a story headlined, “Florida Obituaries show no Parkland school shooting deaths.”

The site, called Fellowship of the Minds, has been spreading conspiracy theories since 2013 about such tragedies as the Sandy Hook school shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing. We recently wrote about another false story on the website that claimed the “March for Our Lives” rally was planned months in advance — it wasn’t.

The story on the Parkland obituaries has been copied by several other websites and posted to Facebook, where users flagged it as potentially false. It leaves the false impression that there were no deaths.

The story is based on the results of a search on the obituary website Tributes.com.

It’s true that obituaries for the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, don’t show up in a search on that site. But it’s not true that the victims don’t have obituaries at all.

Here is a list of all 17 who died with their ages and links to their obituaries on the website of Parkland’s local newspaper, the Sun-Sentinel. Some also have obituaries posted on the website of the funeral home that handled their services:

1. Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

2. Scott Beigel, 35

3. Nicholas Dworet, 17

4. Martin Duque, 14

5. Aaron Feis, 37

6. Jaime Guttenberg, 14

7. Christopher Hixon, 49

8. Luke Hoyer, 15

9. Cara Loughran, 14

10. Gina Montalto, 14

11. Joaquin Oliver, 17

12. Alaina Petty, 14

13. Meadow Pollack, 18

14. Helena Ramsay, 17

15. Alexander Schachter, 14

16. Carmen Schentrup, 16

17. Peter Wang, 15

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label false stories flagged by readers on the social media network.

Sources

Press release. “Names of deceased victims in Stoneman Douglas Shooting.” Broward County Sheriff’s Office. 15 Feb 2018.

Florida Obituaries show no Parkland school shooting deaths.” FellowshipOfTheMinds.com. 3 Apr 2018.

Fichera, Angelo. “Gun Control March Not Planned ‘Months’ Ago.” FactCheck.org. 6 Apr 2018.

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“Florida Obituaries show no Parkland school shooting deaths.”
Tuesday, April 3, 2018