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The camo pants coincidence in Newtown, CT

There have been mul­ti­ple [1] hoax­es [2] and ample mis­re­port­ing [3] in the New­town tragedy as the event unfold­ed. There is an unfor­tu­nate top­ic we’re going to have to revis­it here:

As an intro to this top­ic, let’s start with the obser­va­tion that Tues­day’s episode of the Gre­ta van Sus­teren show had a seg­ment that focused on the ear­ly sus­pi­cions that the shoot­er had help. Her guest was none oth­er that Mark Fuhrman and, as one might imag­ine, the idea was dis­missed out of hand.

The rea­son this top­ic came up is because a sec­ond shoot­er was part of the ini­tial report by a teacher at the school who said there were two shoot­ers run­ning past the gym [4]. In addi­tion, ear­ly CBS News TV reports [5] had an eye wit­ness that describes a man wear­ing “camo pants” and a dark jack­et being tak­en into cus­tody. The eye­wit­ness said the man looked the par­ents in the eye and said “I did­n’t do it” as he was pass­ing by in hand­cuffs. The man then told the reporter that “he’s sit­ting over there in the police car right now” and points off cam­era, so there appeared to be a pret­ty unam­bigu­ous report of a man in cam­ou­flaged pant and a dark jack­et that was tak­en into cus­tody and ear­ly CBS news reports of two gun­men at the school. Mem­o­ry is a com­pli­cat­ed thing, espe­cial­ly dur­ing mass casu­al­ty events. But if a sec­ond shoot­er is report­ed by a teacher dur­ing the shoot­ing and a man is marched past eye­wit­ness­es wear­ing camo pants and a dark jack­et and tak­en into cus­tody, it’s sort of irre­spon­si­ble of the media to just for­get that this hap­pened and nev­er pro­vide an expla­na­tion. It cer­tain­ly fuels sus­pi­cions.

Also, accord­ing to this local CT news report the police were try­ing to deter­mine if the per­son in cus­tody was just coin­ci­den­tal­ly try­ing to enter the build­ing at the same time as the shoot­er. The local news out­let, VoicesNew.com, looks like it cov­ers that spe­cif­ic CT area for local report­ing. The below arti­cle is writ­ten as if it was writ­ten on Fri­day, Dec 14th, but it has a Decem­ber 18th pub­li­ca­tion date. It’s also list­ed as one of the “top_stories” in the link URL and has a Decem­ber 19th date in the URL — the date it was accessed by me — so the dates are clear­ly a bit screwy but this also appears to be a small, local news orga­ni­za­tion so that’s not to be entire­ly unex­pect­ed giv­en the cir­cum­stances (note the com­ment from Decem­ber 17th). Regard­less, giv­en the CBS new report of the man in “camo pants” in cus­tody (and post­ed on the Wash­ing­ton Post’s web­site, so that is pret­ty irrefutable) this seems like an impor­tant aspect of the event to acknowl­edge and address [6]:

VoicesNews.com
School Shoot­ing
Leaves 27 Dead
in Sandy Hook

by Megan Spicer and Jean Dunn
Pub­lished:
Tues­day, Decem­ber 18, 2012 12:29 PM EST
SANDY HOOK — Accord­ing to the New York Times, 27 peo­ple were killed today, includ­ing 20 chil­dren, Fri­day, Decem­ber 14, at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School on Dick­in­son Dri­ve.

Sandy Hook School is an ele­men­tary school of more than 450 stu­dents, ages approx­i­mate­ly 5 through 10, in kinder­garten through fourth grade.

Also dead is the shoot­er, iden­ti­fied as 20-year-old Adam Lan­za, who lived with his moth­er Nan­cy Lan­za in Sandy Hook.

Mr. Lan­za also killed his moth­er in their home.

Con­necti­cut State Police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance termed the inci­dent “a trag­ic sit­u­a­tion with a wide crime scene.”

At a 1:42 p.m. press con­fer­ence, Lt. Vance said “the sit­u­a­tion is secure” and “the pub­lic is not in dan­ger.”

He did not con­firm the num­ber of deaths, say­ing only that there were “sev­er­al fatal­i­ties at the scene, both stu­dents and staff,” includ­ing the school’s prin­ci­pal, Dawn Hochsprung, accord­ing to CNN.

Lt. Vance con­firmed that just after 9:30 a.m., New­town Police received a 911 call for an emer­gency at the ele­men­tary school. New­town Police con­tact­ed the Con­necti­cut State Police, request­ing assis­tance.

On- and off-duty troop­ers respond­ed, along with a large num­ber of first respon­ders from through­out west­ern Con­necti­cut.

Imme­di­ate­ly upon arrival, police entered the school and began an active search for the shoot­er.

“Our main objec­tive was to evac­u­ate the school as quick­ly and effi­cient­ly as pos­si­ble of any and all stu­dents and fac­ul­ty,” he said.

Once the school was searched, a stag­ing area was set up behind the Sandy Hook Fire Depart­ment which is a quar­ter-mile from the school.

Par­ents were told to pick up their chil­dren from the stag­ing area pro­vid­ed they sup­ply iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The scene at the stag­ing area was one of heart­break. Many par­ents were on their cell phones.

As they were leav­ing the stag­ing area, many of the chil­dren were wear­ing their par­ents’ coats and jack­ets because they were not allowed to go back into the school to get any­thing.

Lt. Vance indi­cat­ed that no addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion on the fatal­i­ties will be released “until there is a com­plete and prop­er iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.”

“The shoot­er is deceased inside the build­ing,” he said, not­ing “a great deal of law enforce­ment activ­i­ty in and out of state, cov­er­ing all bases relat­ing to that indi­vid­ual.”

Many law enforce­ment agen­cies are work­ing togeth­er to answer ques­tions about what hap­pened, he said.

Ear­ly on, state police advised that the shoot­er, an adult, was dead, with two hand­guns found at the scene; lat­er reports men­tioned a Glock and a rifle. Mul­ti­ple canine units were brought in to be sure there was not anoth­er shoot­er at large.

It was even­tu­al­ly learned that he had four guns, which were legal­ly owned by his moth­er.

That search has since been called off.

Offi­cers believe one per­son fired the shots, but a sec­ond per­son seen leav­ing the school was tak­en into cus­tody to deter­mine if he had any role in the shoot­ing or was coin­ci­den­tal­ly walk­ing into the school when the shoot­ing began.

CNN report­ed this morn­ing that the prin­ci­pal, vice prin­ci­pal and school psy­chol­o­gist went into a hall­way after hear­ing gun­shots. Only the vice prin­ci­pal returned to the room, shot in the foot and crawl­ing, to call 911.

The vice prin­ci­pal said there must have been “100 rounds, at least,” accord­ing to a CNN report.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma was first noti­fied of the sit­u­a­tion at 10:30 a.m. by his nation­al secu­ri­ty advi­sor and was updat­ed through­out the morn­ing.

Accord­ing to reports, staff and stu­dents heard mul­ti­ple gun­shots over the loud speak­er dur­ing morn­ing announce­ments. Teach­ers imme­di­ate­ly locked class­room doors and cor­ralled stu­dents in the cor­ners of rooms.

Vene­sa Bhar­al­iu, 9, told Voic­es she and some friends were walk­ing to the art room when they heard the gun­shots over the inter­com.

“We tried to close both doors, but one didn’t lock and then we went into the office and cov­ered our­selves,” Vene­sa said.

She added that police told the chil­dren were to close their eyes and hold hands with the peo­ple next to them while they were lead out of the school. Vene­sa, how­ev­er, was not hold­ing anyone’s hand and said she saw “police car­ry­ing big guns.”

A reverse 911 call advised par­ents to stay home, near their phones. A sec­ond reverse 911 call told them to come to a stag­ing area behind the Sandy Hook Fire Depart­ment, where they were reunit­ed with their chil­dren.

Tom Kelle­her of Sandy Hook was in dis­be­lief that a shoot­ing of this sever­i­ty could hap­pen in Sandy Hook. His 8‑year-old daugh­ter was safe.

“Not here, not this school,” Mr. Kelle­her said. “This is very unusu­al.”

Therese Lestik of Sandy Hook received the call from the school and then saw what had hap­pened on the news before get­ting into her car to reach the school and her daugh­ter, Eva, who is in kinder­garten, as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I’m in com­plete shock, Ms. Lestik said.

School dis­tricts in many neigh­bor­ing towns put schools on lock­down, includ­ing New­town, Mon­roe, Bethel and Brook­field.

Lock­down at oth­er New­town schools were lift­ed at 12:30 p.m.

Three peo­ple were tak­en to Dan­bury Hos­pi­tal, where a strong police pres­ence remained out­side the emer­gency depart­ment. One of the three peo­ple was a teacher who was wound­ed in the foot.

The emer­gency depart­ment at Dan­bury Hos­pi­tal was put on lock­down to con­trol the flow of peo­ple, to pro­tect the con­fi­den­tial­i­ty of patients and to allow staff to work unin­ter­rupt­ed.

In a press con­fer­ence Fri­day morn­ing, Dan­bury Hos­pi­tal Pres­i­dent and CEO John Mur­phy offered his heart­felt sym­pa­thy to all affect­ed by the tragedy.

While con­firm­ing that three vic­tims have been brought to the hos­pi­tal, he declined to give specifics.

Dr. Patrick Brod­er­ick, chair­man of the hospital’s emer­gency depart­ment, said the three were all eval­u­at­ed and man­aged by the hospital’s trau­ma ser­vice.

The hos­pi­tal had been alert­ed that patients would be trans­port­ed and teams were on stand­by and ready to care for patients when they arrived.

...

Giv­en the com­pli­cat­ed his­to­ry [7] of past mass killings and how lit­tle infor­ma­tion we have avail­able about the CT shoot­ings at this point it would be absurd to rule out the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the shoot­er had help, espe­cial­ly of the man in “camo pants” just hap­pened to be try­ing to enter the school at the same time as the shoot­er. Instead, on the same day of the attack [8] the media and inves­ti­ga­tors embraced the idea that the shoot­er no help or influ­ence with­out ever resolv­ing the unde­ni­able fact that a sec­ond per­son was tak­en into cus­tody near the area of the mass killing. Recall that the arrest of the shooter’s broth­er, the one orig­i­nal­ly iden­ti­fied as the shoot­er, sort of took over as “the sec­ond per­son in cus­tody” meme as the sto­ry unfold­ed [9]. If there’s any fol­low up regard­ing the man in fatigues near the school tak­en in cus­tody I haven’t been able to find it. If any of this is hoax info that I’m spread­ing I deeply apol­o­gize for that. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, giv­en the cir­cum­stances and evi­dence at hand, we have to con­tin­ue con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that there was more going on here than the con­sen­sus nar­ra­tive sug­gests. It’s a con­se­quence of mass media mass amne­sia.