The Sandy Hook Massacre: Continued Ambiguity And Augmented Realities

Professor James F. Tracy
RINF Alternative News

A recent report notes that FBI crime statistics reflect no homicides occurred in Newtown, Connecticut throughout the year 2012.*

This essay was originally published on January 1, 2013. It was a second part of a December 24, 2012 essay and intended to suggest that elements of the December 14, 2012 school shooting in Newtown were at least partially contrived. Statements from the piece, such as the possibility that “crisis actors” may have been deployed in such an exercise, were subsequently taken out of context by major news media to attack the author for analyzing overall reportage of the massacre.

Information and events over the past 21 months, including Newtown and Connecticut officials’ swift move to demolish the Sandy Hook school itself, the Obama administration’s funneling of millions to the Newtown area, a curiously ambiguous police investigation and report, and the unusual deaths or disappearances of several key figures and witnesses to the event have together tended to confirm many of the article’s initial observations.-JFT

[Some of the links and videos used in the article are now “dead” yet are included as they appeared in the initial publication. Some images have been added to the text.]

************

As documents relating to the Sandy Hook shooting continue to be assessed and interpreted by independent researchers there is a growing awareness that the media coverage of the massacre of 26 children and adults was intended primarily for public consumption to further larger political ends.

A considerable amount of evidence has been withheld by authorities, who in a telling move have successfully postponed public disclosure of items culled from Nancy and Adam Lanzas’ residence and vehicles for an additional ninety days. [1]

At the same time what has been revealed and captured in press reports suggests how from missing suspects and evidence to unrevealed corpses much is still unknown and mainstream news outlets have been at least complicit in what could conceivably be described as the Sandy Hook massacre’s constructed reality. In this way unseen and largely unaccountable authorities set the agenda of the reportage through a titillating storyline reliant on an unsettling symbolic landscape to further develop and cultivate audience credulity.

The spectacle came complete with its own features specially designed for those with a penchant for pointing to intrigue. Shortly after the shooting prominent Arizona political figure and former gubernatorial aspirant Michael Harris opined that the shooting was carried out by an Israeli paramilitary team. Veterans Today Editor Gordon Duff amplified this speculative assertion through a brief article carried by Iran’s PressTV that went viral, becoming the Iranian news outlet’s most read item ever.[2]

Despite compelling geopolitical and diplomatic conditions the claim cannot be verified because the identities of the two-to-four additional suspected gunmen apprehended by Newtown and Connecticut state police remain undisclosed while almost all identity-specific references to these suspects were scrambled on the audio recording of the emergency dispatch-responders exchange. Were these men possibly playing roles in an emergency drill?

Much can still be gleaned from the press coverage of Sandy Hook. Most importantly, as with the events of 9/11 that ushered in the interminable “war on terror” and police state, the techniques that have emblazoned Sandy Hook in public consciousness require continued scrutiny if only for the fact that they will almost certainly be deployed to create similar disaster scenarios, likely in the near-term.

Was Sandy Hook a Relocated Emergency Drill?

At 9:53AM, no more than ten minutes after the reported shooting ceased, the Associated Presspublished a story, “Official with Knowledge of Connecticut School Shooting Says 27 Dead, Including 18 Children.” [This link to a “Tweet” now has a 12:53PM date-stamp. See Jen Lake, “Sandy Hook Early Birds, jenniferlake.wordpress.com, May 1, 2013, for a more detailed explanation of this phenomenon.-JFT] APand the Washington Post have since removed the story from their websites in lieu of subsequent reports that took their cue from a press conference scheduled for later that day.

[Image Credit: Salon.com]

Indeed, aside from internal police accounts of what took place inside Sandy Hook Elementary there is little information available to piece together what may have actually transpired inside the school. No photographic or video footage of the crime scene has been made publicly available and major media have to a large degree based their conclusions on Connecticut Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver’s verbal account of the postmortem, which is at best ambiguous.[3]

Two weeks after the incident an attorney representing the family of one six-year-old Sandy Hook student came forth with a $100 million lawsuit because their child “sustained emotional and psychological trauma and injury” when she, like several other children and staff, heard “‘cursing, screaming, and shooting’ over the school intercom.” The suit has since been withdrawn.[4]

Coverage of the event by the modest local weekly the Newtown Beeis most revealing in its combined discrepancies, vagueness, and brevity. In a December 14 article unidentified school personnel were floridly commended for their courage. Among them were school principal Dawn Hochsprung, who recounted to Bee Editor John Voket[5] how “a masked man entered the school with a rifle and started shooting multiple shots — more than she could count — that went ‘on and on.’”

The problem with the account was that it conflicted with a subsequent storyline where Hochsprung was the first to be killed by the gunmen. Three days later the paper issued a retraction and revised the story further.[6] No additional explanation was provided concerning what party Volkert spoke to and quoted at the crime scene, suggesting from the onset a partly botched attempt at establishing a well-worn storyline.

Along these lines the same article relates what under the circumstances seems like an odd exchange between law enforcement and the school’s staff. Shortly after the incident

an unidentified woman wearing a Connecticut State Police jacket addressed the group of teachers and staff who were consoling each other in the empty Sandy Hook apparatus bays. She complimented them on their individual and “exemplary” efforts following the procedures they were taught to ensure the protection of as many children and colleagues as possible.[7]

In the immediate aftermath of a bloody massacre where 27 lay dead or dying is this the appropriate time for a “post-game pep talk” and slaps on the back? What this closely resembles is the breakdown of a shooting drill, one that proceeded with violent sound effects broadcast through the school’s intercom system. In fact, on the same day the State of Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection in association with the Federal Emergency Management Agency were carrying out a “Planning for the Needs of Children in Disaster” drill in nearby Bridgeport.[8] Was the exercise location changed to Newtown at the last minute?

Close analysis of circumstances surrounding the event including unusual emergency procedures and news outlets’ interactions with alleged victim families following the shooting reveals important recurrent features and figures that further call the official account into question.

A Phantom Evacuation?

Additional facets of coverage and maneuvers suggesting the possibility of an at least partially staged event include the choice of the Sandy Hook Fire and Rescue Company’s headquarters as an evacuation point for the school’s students. This is accompanied by a lack of photographic or video evidence of such a widespread evacuation, bizarre interview footage of idle and wandering families alongside an emotional man who just happens across a half dozen Sandy Hook first graders in his front lawn who apparently witnessed their teacher’s murder.

Newtown Bee Associate Editor Shannon Hicks asserts that she was among the first on the scene at Sandy Hook, driving behind police and “taking photographs immediately through the windshield of her car, with one hand on the steering wheel and one holding her camera.”[9]

Strangely, however, at best only two of Hicks’ photos actually emerge from the series–the famous shot of about fifteen students in conga line formation evidently moving across the parking lot en route to the fire station and a second of state police officers appearing in the December 14 Bee report that is later expunged.

Hicks’ ferocity and determination to capture the scene only yields a few published photos at a time when corporate media outlets were very eager for such documentation, while no other photo or video evidence have emerged indicating such a widespread exodus from the school.

Nor is there any rationale provided in reportage on exactly why the fire station is even designated as an evacuation point. The choice is unusual because the school has only one route in and out of the facility–Dickenson Drive–and in the event of an actual emergency children are forced to parade down a street as police cars, fire engines, and ambulances race the other way. Many schools use their adjoining parking lots as a rendezvous point, and Sandy Hook’s is particularly capacious.

Despite this dangerous and untenable set of conditions Sandy Hook students rehearsed this very scenario less than two months prior, as revealed in a photo Tweeted on October 17 by Principal Hochsprung. The image depicts a much larger assemblage of students in the lot behind the Sandy Hook fire station.

Itinerant “Crisis Actors”?

Following an evacuation of such magnitude the Sandy Hook fire depot would have been bursting at the seams with over six hundred children and staff, and at least as many family members, in addition to police, fire and medical personnel. Yet apart from a large array of emergency vehicles at the site no aerial footage indicates activity on this scale at any point following the shooting.

Instead, there are numerous strange encounters between broadcast journalists and small, sporadic group of wandering parents and children, some of whom are at best moderately curious and far from grief-stricken or hysterical at the prospect that their child may have been caught in the deadly assault. After such a harrowing event why are select would-be family members and students lingering in the area and repeatedly offering themselves for interviews?

A possible reason is that they are trained actors working under the direction of state and federal authorities and in coordination with cable and broadcast network talent to provide tailor-made crisis acting that realistically drives home the event’s tragic features.

[This video did not appear in the original article.-JFT]

One organization providing such services is the Colorado-basedVision Box’s acting troupe Crisis Actors. The entourage’s personnel are “available nationwide for active shooter drills and mall shooting full-scale exercises.” Crisis Actors “develop and portray characters in emergency training scenarios,” Vision Box’s website reads.

The intensity at which they work recreates real life pressures that first responders going through the training must cope with … This special group has sessions with police officers, 911 operators, school administrators, mall security, radio experts, and school safety training professionals. There is an endless amount of scenarios this group can tackle, which range anywhere from weather issues, to a missing child, to an unknown intruder.

According to the Crisis Actors website group members work in association with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and “can play the part of the shooters, mall employees, shoppers in the mall, shoppers who continue to arrive at the mall, media reporters and others rushing to the mall, and persons in motor vehicles around the mall.” They are also trained to “play the role of citizens calling 911 or mall management, or posting comments on social media websites.”

Is it possible that such actors were utilized in Newtown to control the event’s depiction and magnify its effect on public opinion? With the exception of police and government officials, the shocked and grief-stricken students, family members and pedestrians captured inphotos from the shooting’s aftermath are almost entirely anonymous. Further, the suggestion of collaborative efforts between journalists and families is evident in many of the interviews with family members, such as this surprisingly aborted exchange between a would-be parent and journalist.

Reporter: Sir, can I talk to you a second here? We’re Channel Two in New York. How did you find out about this, uhm, terrible tragedy?
[Reporter approaches family of three with third grade daughter and apparent Sandy Hook student accompanying them.]
Unidentified Mother: OK. My daughter’s in third grade. We got, uhm, an automated call from, uhm, from the town–
Reporter: Yeah?
Mother: —that there had been a shooting.
Reporter: Sure.
Mother: Uh, nothing about where the shooting was, and that the schools were on lock down.
Reporter: So you were assuming it was probably the high school at first, right?
[Note that the mother has yet to say anything about having a son attending the local high school.]
Mother: Of course, and my son’s at the high school and I text him. He said, “Everything’s fine here.”
Reporter: Yeah.
Unidentified Mother: And then I got another text from, uh, CBS.

With virtually hundreds of students, faculty, staff and their families looking for each other and being reunited around the scene one would think journalists would have a broad range of interviewees from which to choose. Yet the same mother and daughter are again captured the morning of the shooting by an NBC affiliate.

Unidentified Mother: Another friend of mine said that, uhm, there was a man–masked man came in and just started shooting.
Unidentified Daughter: When we were gone doing morning meeting [sic] like, we heard like, shots and everybody went on the ground and Ms. Martin just closed the door and we went to the corner.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEUol3q1gb8

In the same news clip another male child describes in unusual detail how he narrowly escaped the gunman’s hail of bullets.

Unidentified male student: I heard something like a person was kicking on a door. Then I turned around and I saw smoke and I smelled smoke. Then (pause) Then bullets whizzed by. Then–then a teacher pulled me in to her room.

Here is the same student speaking to another journalist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJo-RXvhhb0

Unidentified male student: I saw some of the bullets going past the hall [sic] that I was right next to and then a teacher pulled me into her classroom.
Reporter: You heard sounds?
Male student: Yes.
Reporter: What did it sound like to you?
Male student: It sounded like someone was kicking a door.

The frequent hesitancy with specific words in this children’s deliveries, combined with a parent allowing their child to repeatedly recount such an event and the unemotional, almost identically-worded delivery, suggests how they may have been coached to present memorized lines.

Another child by the name of “Alexis Wasick” also makes at least two appearances and, following the unscripted lead of one journalist, recites similar lines in each interview.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=bxwcPH9azvA&NR=1

CNN Reporter: Joining me is the Wasick family. We have Alexis who is in third grade. You told me you were sitting in class this morning and you saw a lot of police. Tell me-tell me how you found out what was going on.
“Alexis”: Well, we found that there was all these people and we found that [unintelligible] because we were right near the window in our classroom. And like, we saw like police officers and we heard them [directly addressing camera] on the roof and in our building.
[At this point “Alexis” receives some cues from CNN’s reporter.]
Reporter: Was everybody crying, scared, wanting their parents to get them?
“Alexis”: Yeah, they were. And some people were even like, they kind of wish that they got a stomach ache [sic].

On the same day “Alexis” gives a somewhat different account with similar verbiage to another reporter.

Reporter: What happened?
“Alexis”:[Addressing reporter offscreen] Nothing really [unintelligible] We heard like an ambulance and a police officer come and everybody was a little scared crying and I felt actually a little sick, and I felt like I was going to throw up and [glances at camera] did my teacher too [sic]. [The garbled line, “My teacher did too,” suggests a canned delivery.]
Reporter: How did you get out of there?
“Alexis”: We had to [vocal cadence slowing] go–through–the–building (pause) and then we had to just go to the firehouse.

The performance of Sandy Hook resident Gene Rosen suggests how the community members might become intimately enveloped in the unfolding tragedy. Despite the overwhelming federal, state and local police presence blanketing the community on December 14 Rosen explains several days later how while feeding his cat he receives an unexpected visit from six mislaid and forlorn children whose classmates and first grade teacher Victoria Soto were killed in the shooting.

“The six who turned up at Rosen’s home apparently ran out of the school past her body,” the New York Post amazingly asserts.[10] Instead of calling the authorities to properly reunite the children with their parents Rosen bizarrely invites them inside his home for 30 minutes to jostle with stuffed animals and describe their ordeal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2mr2czhL6c

In an initial interview Rosen is standing in the driveway of his home and appears overcome with emotion, taking off his glasses while turning away from the camera and wiping eyes. He then proceeds down the driveway toward the front of his house, pointing to where he first spotted the children.

Rosen: Six children, and they were sitting there. They were sitting there, and I had no idea why they were there. And I went down there.
[Cut to Rosen’s hands clutching reading glasses, then back to Rosen.]
Rosen: There’s a school bus driver and she says, “There’s been an incident. And I said, “Just come in the house.” And that’s how it started and  I–I brought them in the house.
[Cut to stuffed animals inside Rosen’s house, then back to Rosen.]
Rosen: And then over the next thirty minutes they just described what happened, little-by-little. These two boys kept saying, “We can’t go back to school. We can’t go back to school. Our teacher’s dead–Mrs. Soto. We don’t have a teacher.” And I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t take that in. I had no idea what had happened. A woman came to my house at twelve o’clock
[Cut to dimly-lit interior of house where Rosen stands before stuffed animals on floor.]
Rosen: Her face–her face looked frozen in-in terror. I’ve never seen a face look like that. She said, “Is my boy here? I heard there were six kids here.” And she said the name of the child. I thought that if she’d been to the Sandy Hook school she thought maybe a miracle from god would have the child in my house. And I looked at the casualty list at six o’clock.
[Hand to eyes and weeping, then shaking head]
Rosen: His name was on it!

Time and again in the wake of the incident Rosen is brought before network cameras to present his maudlin recounting of the surreal and implausible encounter.


Continued Postmortem Uncertainties

To properly identify each victim would have required weighing, measurement, de-robing, washing, with all identifying features such as scars or birthmarks noted. Such standard postmortem procedures, the public is asked to believe, were accomplished at the school as no more than three were treated at the well-prepared Danbury Hospital.[11] According to Carver’s December 15 press conference remarks the teachers and children were processed by the state coroner and his staff at an onsite mobile facility the night of the shooting.

Yet at least one family was not even allowed to see the body of their loved one. “They told me, ‘You can’t see (the body),’” Gilles Rousseau remarked to Radio-Canada, the French-language arm of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “Because most people he shot, it was two or three shots in the face, point-blank.”[12] If this were the case it puts further pressure on the uncertain notion that Lanza was an expert shot who had the opportunity to uninterruptedly fire at almost inanimate subjects.

Further, without explanation Carver postponed examination of Adam Lanza’s body until two days after the shooting. Jean Henry, a processing technician in Carver’s office, was recently placed on leave when she allegedly brought her husband, an unauthorized party, in to the state morgue to view Lanza’s corpse.

They went to the gurney where Lanza lay, then Henry unzipped the bag so her husband could look at him for a moment, and she closed the bag and they left the room, sources familiar with situation told The Courant Wednesday.[13]

The refusal for at least one family to view the body of their loved one and Henry’s informal intervention both contribute to the uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding what appears as a severely compromised postmortem operation, the gross inconsistencies of which major media have presented to the world as established fact.

Conclusion

As transcribed and analyzed in Part I of this analysis, the unusual testimony of Connecticut’s chief coroner H. Wayne Carver II, ostensibly placed in charge of the Sandy Hook school postmortem. Carver’s December 15 behavior and remarks before the press suggests his clear discomfort and demonstration that he knows very little about the shootings or autopsies themselves. In light of the above the physician’s hesitant performance in Sandy Hook’s tragedy is perhaps not so difficult to explain. At one point Carver even indicates his disapproval of the proceedings by expressing his wish that his staff and “the people of Newtown don’t have it crash on their head later.” Is Carver referring to an embellished event that he has been an unwilling participant in?

As indicated on the Crisis Actors website, performance of this type is now a commonplace feature of widely prevalent “live shooter drills” and may be infused throughout such an event and its aftermath to augment and control a broader narrative intended for public consumption. “The power to make a reportable event,” historian Daniel Boorstin writes, is “the power to make experience.”[14]

Along these lines and despite countervailing facts and inconsistencies the official story of the Sandy Hook shooting is now part of the nation’s collective experience, consciousness and memory. To declare that the shooting “never took place” is cause for intense opprobrium in most polite circles where, in familiar Orwellian fashion, the media-induced trance and dehistoricized will to believe maintain their hold.

Similarly, an individual who contends that Timothy McVeigh was an accessory in a much larger operation at Oklahoma City, Osama bin Laden was not responsible for the events of 9/11, or the World Trade Center Towers were brought down by controlled demolition is vigorously condemned for thought crimes against the state. Such are the immense dimensions of mass manipulation where fact and tragedy may be routinely revised and reinforced to fit the motives and designs toward a much larger apparatus of social and political control.

Notes


*”A USA TODAY investigation into mass killings has found that the FBI’s homicide data over the past decade has only a 57% accuracy rate when it comes to recording the killings of more than four people in a single event. The records are voluntarily submitted by police agencies, and FBI officials say the Connecticut State Police and Aurora police departments initially provided the information on the year’s two largest killing incidents — only to request that it be deleted.” Meghan Hoyer, “In FBI Murder Data, Mass Killings Often Go Missing,” USA Today, September 10, 2014.

[1] Michelle Tuccitto Sullo, “Newtown Search Warrants for Adam Lanza’s Home, Vehicles Still Sealed,” New Haven Register, December 29, 2012.

[2] Gordon Duff, “Israeli Death Squads Involved in Sandy Hook Blood Bath,” PressTV, December 18, 2012.

[3] James F. Tracy, “The Sandy Hook School Massacre: Unanswered Questions and Missing Information,” Global Research, December 25, 2012. [Link is to MHB post as article on Global Research site published December 25, 2012 has been inexplicably deleted.-JFT]

[4] Mary Ellen Godin, “Claim Seeks $100 Million for Child Survivor of Connecticut School Shooting,” Reuters/Yahoo News, December 28, 2012. The suit was tentatively withdrawn shortly thereafter. Michael P. Mayko, “Lawyer Withdraws Sandy Hook Suit, May Refile,”Connecticut Post, December 31, 2012.

[5] John Voket, “Stories of Heroism Emerging From School Tragedy,”Newtown Bee, December 14, 2012.

[6] “Retraction and Apology,” Newtown Bee, December 17, 2012. See Niall Bradley, “Sandy Hook Massacre: Official Story Spins Out of Control,” Veterans Today, December 20, 2012.

[7] Voket, “Stories of Heroism.”

[9] Julie Moos, “How the Newtown Bee is Covering Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting,” Poynter.org, December 15, 2012.

[10] Reuven Fenton, “Children at Door: Teacher is Dead,” New York Post, December 18, 2012.

[11] Joe Van Brussel, “Danbury Hospital Prepared for School Shooting Massive Casualties, Got Few,” Huffington Post, December 14, 2012.

[12] Lise Millette, “Lauren Rousseau, Teacher killed in Newtown Shooting, Mourned by Canadian Family,” Canadian Press viaHuffington Post, December 18, 2012.

[13] Jon Lender and David Altimari, “State Worker Placed on Leave After Showing Husband Adam Lanza’s Body,” Hartford Courant, January 2, 2012.

[14] Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, 25th Anniversary Edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1987 [1961], 10.


 

Professor James F. Tracy is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. James Tracy’s work on media history, politics and culture has appeared in a wide variety of academic journals, edited volumes, and alternative news and opinion outlets. James is editor of Union for Democratic Communication’s Journal Democratic Communiqué and a contributor to Project Censored’s forthcoming publication Censored 2013: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2011-2012. Additional writings and information are accessible at memoryholeblog.com.