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As rumors swirled about the suspects linked to mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, some articles shared on Facebook claimed that police in other cities had prevented similar attacks.
A website called City News published an article claiming that the Omaha Police Department had "foiled a mass shooting plot by a 32-year old man." The story is nearly identical to another article from the website that claims the same thing happened in Des Moines, so we decided to check them out.
The stories were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Domain records show that the City News website was registered in China last month for a period of one year — a telltale sign that the site is bogus.
Michael Pecha, public information officer for the Omaha Police Department, told PolitiFact in an email that the story is false; the OPD has had "no incidents of this nature." We also reached out to the Des Moines Police Department and we’ll update this story if we hear back.
But not all the stories on Facebook about police foiling shooting attempts are made-up.
On Aug. 1, federal agents in Lubbock, Texas, arrested a man they say was planning a mass shooting. William Patrick Williams, 19, reportedly told his grandmother that he had purchased an assault rifle and planned to "shoot up" a local hotel.
City News, "BREAKING NEWS: Mass shooting in Des Moines thwarted by DMPD," accessed Aug. 5, 2019
City News, "BREAKING NEWS: Mass shooting in Omaha thwarted by OPD," accessed Aug. 5, 2019
First Draft, "Don’t get tricked: Checks on fake news that anyone can do," Nov. 4, 2016
KWTX-TV, "Feds: Texas man planning mass shooting hit with weapons charge," Aug. 3, 2019
Statement from Michael Pecha, public information officer for the Omaha Police Department, Aug. 5, 2019
WhoIs search, Aug. 5, 2019