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Pallbearers carry the casket of Amerie Jo Garza to her burial site in Uvalde, Texas, on May 31, 2022. Garza was one of the students killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Pallbearers carry the casket of Amerie Jo Garza to her burial site in Uvalde, Texas, on May 31, 2022. Garza was one of the students killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Pallbearers carry the casket of Amerie Jo Garza to her burial site in Uvalde, Texas, on May 31, 2022. Garza was one of the students killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone May 31, 2022

TV interviews with Uvalde victim's family fuel false claim

If Your Time is short

  • Alfred Garza III is the biological father of Uvalde shooting victim Amerie Jo Garza, and Angel Garza is her stepfather, according to an obituary for the girl.

  • A CNN chyron shown during an Anderson Cooper interview with Angel Garza identified him as her father, but subsequent CNN articles referred to him as her stepfather.

 

Television interviews with two different men — each identified as the father of a mass shooting victim in Uvalde, Texas — have many on social media falsely claiming or insinuating that they are crisis actors and the shooting was staged.

"What’s the explanation for this? Same victim from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tx. Anderson Cooper, CNN and Savannah Guthrie, NBC each interview the child’s father. Same victim, 2 different fathers??" read a tweet posted on May 29 that links to an edited video showing clips from the CNN and NBC interviews. "WHAT A SCAM! THEY ARE PLAYING US! TOTAL FED OP AND WE'RE FED UP!!!"

The explanation is far more simple than this claim suggests: One man is the child’s biological father and the other is her stepfather.

Amerie Jo Garza, 10, was one of 19 students slain when a gunman attacked the school on May 24. A picture of her that circulated after the shooting showed her proudly holding a certificate for making the school’s A/B honor roll, an award given during a ceremony that had been held earlier in the day. Amerie’s grandmother told The Daily Beast that her granddaughter was shot as she tried to call 911 after gunman Salvador Ramos entered the fourth-grade classroom.

On May 25, CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed a man named Angel Garza about the girl’s death. Both Cooper and the chyron on screen during Cooper’s interview referred to Garza as Amerie’s father, a clip of which was included in the tweet. The next day, NBC aired an interview between journalist Savannah Guthrie and a man named Alfred Garza III, who was also identified in that segment as the girl’s father. Alfred Garza described waiting six hours after the shooting to learn whether his daughter was alive or not.

An obituary clears up the confusion. It describes Amerie as a caring, sweet and sassy child who liked to swim and draw. It also lists Alfred Garza III as the child’s father and Angel Garza as her stepfather. A GoFundMe set up by a family friend refers to "both of Amerie’s fathers, Angel and Alfred."

CNN did not respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment about the way Angel Garza was identified in the May 26 segment, but two separate CNN articles posted on May 27 and May 29 refer to both men, citing Alfred Garza as the girl’s father and Angel Garza as her stepfather.

The edited video that appeared in the tweet made the rounds on social media, and could be found on YouTube, Twitter and Bitchute, as well as Facebook and Rumble accounts belonging to conservatice commentator Charlie Kirk.

A false flag, which often follows mass shootings, is an event designed to make it look like it was done by one person or group but was actually done by another. There have been real false flags throughout history, but more often than not in recent years, baseless assertions have spread widely on social media after horrific events, such as the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 26 people, 20 of them children.

Fueled by conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones, these hoaxes are premised on the idea that these attacks were staged or planned in order to enact gun control legislation. In 2018, these unfounded claims earned PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year designation after the internet shared and re-shared hoaxes suggesting a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was nothing but political theater. It was not. Seventeen people died.

Our ruling

A tweet said that the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting was staged and cited as evidence separate TV news interviews showing two different men being identified as the father of a child shot to death in her classroom.

However, the explanation is much simpler: One man was the child’s biological father and the other was her stepfather. There is no evidence the shooting, which claimed 21 lives, was staged.

We rate this claim False.

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TV interviews with Uvalde victim's family fuel false claim

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