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Monique Curet
By Monique Curet September 30, 2020

Alleged shooter in triple homicide not a BLM activist or wearing Breonna Taylor shirt

If Your Time is short

• Three people were shot and killed at a Louisville, Ky., bar on Sept. 18. There is no evidence that the alleged shooter is an activist in the Black Lives Matter movement, and he was not wearing a Breonna Taylor T-shirt.

• Police have called the shooting a “completely random act.”

A former U.S. senatorial candidate said in a Sept. 21 Facebook post that a man accused of shooting and killing three people at a Louisville, Ky., bar is a Black Lives Matter activist who was wearing a Breonna Taylor T-shirt. 

"BLM Activist kills three people in a Louisville bar wearing a Breonna Taylor tee shirt last Friday. Why isn’t this National News?" said Peggy Hubbard, who ran for U.S. Senate and lost Illinois’ Republican primary election in March.

Hubbard’s post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

Hubbard’s claim is based on a triple homicide that happened Sept. 18 on the patio of Bungalow Joe’s bar and restaurant in Louisville. Michael E. Rhynes Jr. was charged with three counts of murder and has pleaded not guilty.

A photo shows and police confirmed that Rhynes was wearing a different shirt, not a Breonna Taylor shirt. 

Taylor was a 25-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed by Louisville police in March as officers executed a search warrant at her home. Since her death, activists, athletes and celebrities have called attention to the case, and her name has become a rallying cry in nationwide calls for police reform. 

But her name was not on the shirt Rhynes was wearing at the time of the bar shooting. In a still photo taken from a TikTok video showing his arrest shortly after the shooting, Rhynes’ shirt is visible. It features images of Muhammad Ali and Colin Kaepernick and the hashtag #freedom, according to Snopes.com.

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The shirt Rhynes wore was custom made by a company Rhynes co-owns, according to Louisville police. Rhynes’ LinkedIn profile says he is the chief executive officer for Serve N Slay Images in Louisville, and the Kentucky Secretary of State lists him as the registered agent for the company. 

Serve N Slay’s apparel line is "geared towards showing a positive image and message for the black community with a bit of attitude and flavor," according to its website. The clothing offered for sale includes a Black Lives Matter t-shirt.

There is no online evidence to indicate that Rhynes is an activist within the Black Lives Matter movement. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for his business have been disabled or removed. Rhynes also does not appear to have any currently active personal social media accounts.

Louisville Metro Police Department Lt. Donny Burbrink, who leads the department’s homicide unit, said the shooting seemed to be "a completely random act." Police said they do not have any proof that the crime was racially motivated, WAVE 3 News in Louisville reported, and one of the men killed was a Black man. 

Other social media posts similar to Hubbard’s falsely claimed that the bar where the triple shooting took place is owned by a retired police officer. The owner of Bungalow Joe’s, Joe Bishop, has debunked that rumor himself in media interviews. Bishop also told Fox News that his review of security footage revealed Rhynes was not wearing a Breonna Taylor shirt

Our ruling

Hubbard said, "BLM Activist kills three people in a Louisville bar wearing a Breonna Taylor tee shirt last Friday. Why isn’t this National News?"

Hubbard’s Facebook post contains an element of truth because a triple homicide did take place in Louisville and the alleged shooter owns a business that promotes positive messages for the Black community, including on clothing it sells. However, the post ignores critical facts: The shooter is not known to be an activist in the Black Lives Matter movement and was not wearing a shirt featuring Breonna Taylor. We rate this claim Mostly False.

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Alleged shooter in triple homicide not a BLM activist or wearing Breonna Taylor shirt

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