FACT CHECK: Did Police Identify Sam Hyde As The Florida School Shooter?

Emily Larsen | Contributor

Several Twitter accounts claimed that a man named Sam Hyde was the suspect of the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

“Photos just released of Parkland Florida High School shooting suspect. Suspect known to be Sam Hyde,” one tweet said.

“#ParkLand Florida PD have released this picture of a person of interest in the #FloridaSchoolShooting. Former Social Studies teacher #SamHyde,” tweeted another user.

“Suspect identified as Nicholas Cruz, attached is image from his social media account,” said a parody Bill O’Reilly account that tweeted a photo of Hyde.

Verdict: False

Internet hoaxers often spread false information that Hyde, a controversial comedian, is the gunman behind mass shootings.

Fact Check:

Soon after news broke about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Wednesday afternoon, people on Twitter falsely spread information that Hyde was the shooter. Authorities later identified ex-student Nikolaus Cruz as the shooting suspect.

Naming Hyde as a shooting suspect has become a meme that circulates on the internet after mass shootings. He was quickly named as the shooter of the San Bernardino, Las Vegas and Orlando shootings on social media and internet forums. Shortly after the shooting at a Texas church in November, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas mistakenly told CNN that the gunman’s name was Sam Hyde. Authorities later identified the Texas shooter as former Air Force member Devin Patrick Kelly.

Hyde is a comedian and member of the sketch comedy group Million Dollar Extreme. The group had a short-lived comedy show on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s late-night programming, before Turner Broadcasting cancelled it after some found the show’s content shocking and offensive. Hyde wrote in a Daily Caller opinion piece that executives cancelled the show because it was not politically correct.

Origins of the Hyde shooter meme are not known, but the community on anonymous messaging board 4chan is often blamed for spreading the rumor that Hyde is responsible for shootings.

Hyde told BuzzFeed News following the shooting at UCLA in 2016 that the trend to name him as a shooting suspect started as part of an “anti-Semitic” bullying effort by white supremacist website The Daily Stormer.

“They were targeting a bunch of people but I suppose my name is the one that stuck,” Hyde told BuzzFeed News. “It is definitely anti-Semitic because when this all started going down I was receiving a ton of emails” with racial slurs, Hyde said.

Hyde told Forbes that he’s even been questioned by authorities because of the hoax and that his friends and family members have been tricked into thinking he was a shooting suspect.

Initial reports said there were at least 14 victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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Emily Larsen

Contributor

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