The Slatest

Parents of Sandy Hook Victims Sue Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones for Defamation

Neil Heslin wipes tears as he holds a photo of his son, Jesse Lewis, at a Senate hearing
Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Jesse Lewis, wipes tears as he testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 27, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Three parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School children who were killed in the 2012 school shooting are suing InfoWars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has repeatedly claimed that the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting that killed 20 first-graders was a hoax.

The three parents, who filed a defamation suit against Jones on Tuesday, are the first Newtown parents to sue Jones. Jones has long asserted, citing misleading and false evidence, that the shooting was staged by opponents of gun rights.

Two of the parents, Leonard Pozner and his former wife, Veronique De La Rosa, had a 6-year old son named Noah. In April 2017, Jones aired a segment on his radio show called “Sandy Hook Vampires Exposed” in which he used a common video distortion to argue that an interview of De La Rosa after the shooting was staged in a studio, according to the New York Times.

In the second instance, Neil Heslin, parent of 6-year-old Jesse, was interviewed on NBC in June for a segment that also profiled Jones. On the show, he told Megyn Kelly, “I held my son with a bullet hole through his head.” The next week, an employee of Infowars asserted in a video that Heslin was lying because the medical examiner had said he showed photos of the children’s bodies for parents to identify them. “Will there be a clarification from Heslin or Megyn Kelly?” the employee said, according to the Times. “I wouldn’t hold your breath.” A month later, Jones replayed the video on the show, saying, “The stuff I found was they never let them see their bodies.”

Jones has received more pushback than normal recently, as he has gone on the offensive against Parkland student shooting survivors. His YouTube channel received a strike from the platform in February after posting a video suggesting David Hogg and other Parkland students were crisis actors (YouTube removed the video). The site then got a second strike later that month for another video about the Parkland shooting; if it receives one more in the next few weeks, the channel will be banned from YouTube, cutting InfoWars off from more than 2 million subscribers.

The parents are being represented by the same attorney who filed a suit against Jones earlier this month for a Massachusetts man whom Jones incorrectly identified as the gunman in the Parkland shooting. The parents filed their suit in Austin, Texas, where Jones lives, and they are seeking at least $1 million.