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Right-wing conspiracy theorists are trying to link the Texas shooter to the left-wing Antifa group

Sutherland springs church shooting texasErich Schlegel/Getty ImagesLaw enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
  • Right-wing activists quickly circulated information that a Texas shooter who killed at least 26 people was a member of the left-wing Antifa group.
  • The theory has not been proven.

Before law enforcement officials released the name of the person suspected of shooting up a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday, the rumours online started swirling.

Just hours after the massacre that left at least 26 people dead, some on the right were already spinning conspiracies to pin the shooter’s motive on the left.

And while the tally of hoaxes and fake claims was numerous, a conspiracy theory that the shooter had ties to Antifa, the loosely-organised grassroots group that has countered perceived authoritarianism and right-wing movements, seemed to be by far the most prevalent.

Law enforcement hadn’t released information as of Monday morning about the shooter’s potential motive.

But reports emerged on Sunday afternoon that the shooter was clad in all black, and had liked some atheist fan pages on Facebook.

That was seemingly enough for the far-right to link the shooter to Antifa. 

Infowars, the right-wing website that has peddled conspiracy theories about everything from 9/11 to Sandy Hook to Hitler’s death, pushed the Antifa narrative repeatedly on Sunday.

Russia Today also perpetuated the Antifa claim (the site appended a “Editor’s Note” adding that the claims were being circulated being right-wing activists).

Washington Times writer Cheryl K. Chumley suggested there was a link to Antifa and the left because the shooter liked atheist social media pages. 

“He’s reportedly a wicked atheist with no moral compass,” Chumley wrote. “Hey — that’s rather like many of the left now, isn’t it? Can you say antifa, anyone?”

The claim circulated widely on YouTube and in comments sections at sites like The Gateway Pundit, and a number of conservative provocateurs known for playing fast and loose with facts also blasted out the claim to their hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers.

Additionally, Gizmodo noted that Google searching David Patrick Kelly yielded top search results linking the suspected shooter to Antifa.

In recent months, right-leaning media outlets and figures have attempted to make Antifa, largely a counter-protest movement, into a boogeyman.

Outlets like Fox News warned that Antifa wished to overthrow President Donald Trump over the weekend, and mocked the revolution when it never materialised, despite the fact that there was little proof that anyone was planning any revolution.

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