QAnon has falsely claimed the deadly shooting at a Boulder grocery store that left 10 dead on Monday was a “false flag” staged by actors and nobody actually died.
Within hours of accused gunman Ahmad Alissa, 21, opening fire inside a King Soopers yesterday afternoon, influential members of the conspiracy group began making wild accusations the deadly scene wasn’t real.
QAnon supporters have shockingly claimed the deadly Boulder massacre that left 10 dead wasn’t realReuters
The victims ranged in age from 20 to 65, with Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver said the community felt this loss ‘in our bones’Getty Images – Getty
Syrian-born Alissa, who has been described by family as “anti-social” and “mentally ill”, was charged by police with 10 counts of murder on Tuesday.
Police say he opened fire inside the King Soopers store with an AR-15 styled rifle at around 2.40pm on Monday.
Alissa gunned down at least one victim in the parking lot before making his way inside the store and shooting “rapid-fire” as he walked through a handicapped entrance, witnesses said.
The victims ranged in age from 20 to 65, with Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver saying the community felt the loss of life “in our bones.”
Among the dead is Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, a 51-year-old father of seven, who was gunned down as he raced inside to tackle the gunman, moments after the rampage began.
But instead of expressing sympathy to the victims, for members of QAnon, the senseless attack was seized upon as an opportunity to espouse reckless, unfounded and insensitive fallacies about the incident all being an elaborate charade.
Syrian-born Ahmed Alissa was charged by police with 10 counts of murder on Tuesday Boulder Police Dept
Police work on the scene outside of a King Soopers grocery store where a shooting took place Monday, March 22, 2021AP:Associated Press
Followers of the fringe group attempted to claim witnesses of the mass shooting were ‘actors’USA TODAY NETWORK
Prominent members of the group – which has been designated a “domestic terror threat” by the FBI – took to Telegram to spread baseless conspiracies about the tragic event.
“No question Boulder, Co incident today was a false flag. The only question is by which side?” one QAnoner with more than 260,000 subscribers wrote.
“False flag means it’s fake. Nobody actually died,” the user continued. “Was this false flag to try and take your guns or scare the s**t out of you?”
Another popular account with an audience exceeding 200,000, wrote: “This false flag was executed about as cleanly as Biden on a staircase”, a reference to the president tripping up the steps of Air Force One on Friday.
A third QAnon mouthpiece added: “Nobody died. I was there for an actual shooting. This was 100% fake fake.”
“This Boulder situation reeks of false flag. Anons will pick this apart in a matter of hours if it is,” said a fourth.
Similar discourse took place in more obscure social media sites, including the free-speech platform, Gab, on which a QAnon advocate suggested the shooting was “staged” to help push gun control legislation.
The same user also suggested the tragedy could additionally be a ruse orchestrated by the Biden administration to distract Americans from the emerging crisis at the US-Mexico border.
One user suggested the tragedy could additionally be a ruse orchestrated by the Biden administration to distract Americans from the emerging crisis at the US-Mexico borderReuters
Boulder Police DepartmentPolice say Alissa opened fire inside the King Soopers store with an AR-15 styled rifle at around 2.40pm on Monday[/caption]
Among the dead is Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, a 51-year-old father of seven, who was gunned down as he raced inside to tackle Alissa, moments after his rampage beganReuters
Other followers of the fringe group attempted to claim witnesses of the mass shooting were “actors”, because they didn’t buy their emotional accounts of the incident when speaking to the media.
The trope that mass shootings are staged to gain support for stricter gun controls are often pushed by conspiracy theorist and other far-right groups in the wake of such events.
Such theories were even shared on Reddit in the wake of the incident in Boulder, with one writing: “It’s almost as if there’s active gun control legislation sitting in congress that an ‘event’ or several ‘events’ would help create a perceived need to get it passed in the senate.”
Just 10 days prior to Monday’s rampage, a Boulder judge ruled that the city could no longer enforce its ban on assault-style weapons and large capacity magazines.
The ban was first put in place in 2018 after a mass shooting at Marjorie Stone Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Just 10 days prior to Monday’s rampage, a Boulder judge ruled that the city could no longer enforce its ban on assault-style weapons and large capacity magazinesUSA TODAY NETWORK
QAnon, otherwise known as Q, is a widely discredited and disproven conspiracy theoryAlamy Live News
The North Central region of Colorado has suffered nine school shootings since the infamous Columbine High School massacre in 1999, which left 12 students and a teacher dead.
Four other major shootings have occurred within a 20 miles of Columbine, including a 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora that killed 12.
The 2018 incident in Florida pushed officials in Boulder to take action, seeking to pro-actively prevent any such similar massacres from occurring ever again.
Just a month after the ban passed, it was challenged by two Boulder residents, a local gun shop and the Colorado State Shooting Association.
Then on March 12, Boulder County District Judge Andrew Hartman sided with the plaintiffs, insisting that under state law, cities and counties cannot restrict guns that are otherwise legal under federal and state law.
Followers of the far-flung theory have a long track record of manipulating current events to suit their warped points of viewReuters
QAnon, otherwise known as Q, is a widely discredited and disproven conspiracy theory which claims a secret cabal of Democratic, Satan-worshipping pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotted against former President Donald Trump.
Followers of the far-flung theory have a long track record of manipulating current events to suit their warped points of view.
One of the most high profile examples of the spin machine at work came after the US Capitol riots on January 6, when the group claimed the insurrection was the work of antifa insurgents.
Several hundred of those who stormed the legislature nearly three months ago have since been arrested and charged by federal authorities.
A number of those individuals had shared QAnon theories to social media prior to the riots, charging documents show. Members of the hate groups Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers are also among those charged.
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One QAnon follower, Ashli Babbitt, was even killed during the riots as she attempted to climb over a police barricade.
The group, however, attempted to counter that she was actually still alive.
More recently, QAnon attempted to suggest the mass shooting at three massage parlors in Georgia that killed eight, including six Asian women, was also a “false flag”.
Rita Katz, director of Site Intelligence Group which tracks the far right online, tweeted: “Every tragedy is a reason for far-right/conspiracy adherents to swarm like vultures, calling the Atlanta shootings a false flag to stoke anti-white sentiments, or going with the hallmark QAnon narrative of human trafficking based on stereotypes of massage parlors as brothels.”