Roughly four weeks after Las Vegas was rocked by the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, survivors of the attack claim that they have been under attack from internet trolls and conspiracy theorists. The reason? Conspiracy theories that suggest that the Las Vegas mass shooting was a “false flag,” and its victims nothing more than government-funded “crisis actors.” As Fox News reports, several victims have spoken out about the social media harassment and abuse they have endured since miraculously surviving a shooting that left 58 dead and hundreds more wounded.
Las Vegas shooting survivor Braden Matejka is from British Columbia. The 30-year-old was shot in the head during the October 1 shooting, carried out by 64-year-old “lone gunman” Stephen Paddock. Paddock rained bullets down on a crowd of 20,000 concertgoers from his 32nd flood Mandalay Bay Hotel room and went on to kill himself before he could be taken into custody.
Despite Matejka’s miraculous survival at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, the Canadian has been forced to shut down his social media presence in the aftermath of the shooting, as he’s been bombarded with threats and abuse from people who believe he is part of a government conspiracy to dupe the public. At least one social media comment expressed a wish that the Las Vegas survivor would “really” get shot in the head.
“You are a lying piece of s**t and I hope someone truly shoots you in the head.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Taylor, the brother of Las Vegas shooting victim Braden Matejka, claims that the online hate is adding to the unthinkable horror that his brother and other surviving victims are living with. While Braden has shut down his social media accounts in response to a campaign of conspiracy theorist hate, his family members say they are still being harassed by people who believe his injuries are a hoax.
“There are all these families dealing with likely the most horrific thing they’ll ever experience, and they are also met with hate and anger and are being attacked online about being a part of some conspiracy.”
Almost immediately following the Las Vegas shooting, online conspiracy theory message boards and communities lit up with armchair detectives posting their theories regarding the “truth” behind the tragedy. In some conspiracy theories, Stephen Paddock is said to have been joined by one or more addition gunmen and authorities are, for some reason, now hiding that fact. Kymberley Suchomel, a 28-year-old Vegas survivor, passed away of natural causes in her sleep just days after the shooting — and after publicly claiming multiple gunmen terrorized the Las Vegas crowd.
In most conspiracy theories regarding the Las Vegas shooting, theorists claim that the shooting didn’t happen at all, that it was all a hoax, its victims crisis actors making money by duping American citizens. According to this widely circulated theory, reports Newsweek, Braden and other wounded Las Vegas shooting victims were never shot at all, and are only pretending to be victims as part of some nefarious, inexplicable plot.
Rob McIntosh, another Las Vegas shooting victim, told The Guardian that the unprovoked and unwarranted social media attacks have inspired anger. The 52-year-old suffered wounds to his arm and chest in Las Vegas and is one of the survivors who have been publicly accused of being a government crisis actor.
“It makes you angry. You’ve already been through something that’s traumatic and terrible, and you have someone who is attacking your honesty. You don’t even have the opportunity to respond.”
Since Matejka has been labeled a “crisis actor” online, YouTube has been forced to remove at least one video attacking him. According to the platform, the video in question violated the site’s harassment and bullying policy. Even so, other videos featuring Matejka and other Las Vegas shooting survivors are still live on the site, with many videos alleging that the injured are part of or privy to a massive hoax and/or cover-up.
Despite widespread and seemingly harmful conspiracy theories surrounding the Las Vegas mass shooting, authorities have been slow to provide the public with new details about the attack. As Fox News reports, local and federal agents once again declined to comment on new developments in the case on Friday. According to one FBI spokesperson, the bureau is “still not commenting because it’s an ongoing investigation.” It remains to be seen whether or not more transparency would help bring an end to the harassment being endured by wounded Las Vegas shooting survivors