Eighteen children and one teacher were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde County, Texas, on May 24, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and news reports citing the Texas Department of Public Safety. Amid the grief and anger online as people responded to the slaying, there were baseless claims that have become unfortunately predictable in the wake of mass shootings: that this was a false flag operation.
“Those directing false flags know the emotional response from the Buffalo shooting is wearing down for the sheep,” one tweet said, referencing the shooting at a grocery store with mostly Black patrons a week earlier. “So they did another one in Uvalde Texas to reinforce the response. Don’t be fooled. False Flag season is here.”
“As all local law enforcement including border control respond to false flag Uvalde shooting, the drugs & criminal migrants are pouring in,” another said.
The situation was still developing as of May 24, but there is ample evidence that it was not a false flag.
A false flag is an incident, such as an attack, that’s designed to look like it was perpetrated by one person or party, when in fact it was committed by someone else. One common and unfounded claim following mass shootings is that they are false flags devised by governments seeking to enact gun control laws.
As is typical, we expect to see similar claims emerge on more social media platforms in the coming days.
Abbott said during a press conference about the shooting that the gunman, an 18-year-old Uvalde resident named Salvador Ramos, was also dead and is believed to have been killed by responding officers. Abbott later said Ramos had been a student at Uvalde High School, and Pete Arredondo, police chief of the school district, said it appears that Ramos acted alone. Abbott also said that “it is being reported that the subject shot his grandmother right before he went into the school.”
The shooting started around 11:30 a.m. At 12:17 p.m., the Uvalde school district announced on Twitter that there was an active shooter at the elementary school and that law enforcement officers were on site. When the district tweeted again two hours later, it was to say that the surviving elementary students who hadn’t been taken to hospitals had been transported to the local civic center to reunite with their families.
Children and adults injured in the shooting were taken to Uvalde Memorial Hospital and University Hospital, according to news reports citing representatives of those hospitals.
For other schools in the district, the Uvalde Police Department said on Facebook that officers would be on school campuses to escort students to parents’ cars.
Rey Chapa told the New York Times by phone that his nephew was in the school when the shooting happened, and that he was waiting to hear from family and friends about the conditions of other children.
“I’m afraid I’m going to know a lot of these kids that were killed,” Chapa said.
There is no evidence to support the claims that these killings were part of a false flag operation. This was the deadliest elementary school shooting since 26 children and educators were killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, the New York Times reported.
Claims that this mass shooting was staged or orchestrated are inaccurate and ridiculous. Pants on Fire.
This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.