The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting—the worst school shooting in national history—triggered an explosive debate around gun control in America. That debate continues today, perhaps most notably in Newtown itself.
Each month, gun advocates come to Newtown Board of Education meetings to argue that more guns, not fewer guns, could have prevented Adam Lanza from carrying out his shooting rampage. One of those advocates, seen in the video below, dresses in 1700s revolutionary garb.
But there was a new face in the audience at a meeting earlier this month: Wolfgang Halbig, a former police officer and school safety consultant who lives in Florida. Halbig flew up from Florida to attend the meeting, but it’s not because he’s a pro-gun advocate. In fact, he doesn’t think that guns or gun laws could have prevented the killings.
Halbig has another belief entirely: He says Sandy Hook never actually happened, that it was a fake event staged by the government. No Adam Lanza, no victims. According to Halbig, 26 people did not die that day. It was all fiction. The distraught parents who gave interviews to the media were actually paid actors, he says.
“Nobody even requested trauma helicopters that day,” he told me over the phone this week. “Why no trauma helicopters? That’s a big one.”
On his website, Halbig lists out 16 specific questions. The answers to them, he believes, will expose a massive conspiracy. For example, he asks, “Who ordered those Port-a-Potties from Southbury, Connecticut?” and “Who declared all 18 children and six school staff members legally dead within the first eight minutes?”
In the realm of conspiracy theories, Halbig’s is pretty far out there, and yet, he has a sizable following. In March, he set up a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to raise money for his cause. In the two months it has been online, Halbig has raised nearly $22,000 from over 400 people.
“The truth needs to be exposed, however long it takes,” writes Clyde Shaw, a man who donated $20 to the campaign.
“I am very proud of the commitment and integrity of Wolfgang thus far in investigating this lousy, horrible, criminal scandal in Connecticut with the so said ‘Sandy Hook shooting,'” writes Jimmy Saunders, a man who gave $25. “I have seen Wolfgang during interviews and on other news websites, and I encourage him to succeed in breaking down this hoax.”
Halbig isn’t some guy who’s been living in the woods for the last decade, either. He has a long and high-profile career in school safety, and has rubbed shoulders with some famous people. From 1999 to 2004, he was the executive director for the National Institute for School and Workplace Safety. In 2000, Jeb Bush appointed him to a Florida school safety commission.
Halbig also doesn’t have a clear explanation for why, exactly, the government or the media would want to expend so much energy creating such an elaborate mirage. But he insists he’s not pocketing the cash for himself. Part of the $20,000, he says, is going to fulfill Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that will reveal what did—or did not—happen that day in December 2012.
Halbig says he has already paid A. Paul Spinella, a Connecticut-based personal injury lawyer, $10,000 to begin filing requests. Spinella, who does appear to be a licensed attorney in Connecticut, has not returned multiple calls to confirm the receipt of payment. Halbig also claims to have hired a documentary crew to film his efforts, but he refused to name them.
Last week, Halbig posted a video on YouTube that he says shows him being “assaulted” by a Newtown volunteer firefighter while he was visiting Connecticut. An officer with the Newtown Police Department, reached by phone earlier this week, confirms that he is aware of Halbig but declined to comment further.
Recently, Halbig even set up his own website, Sandy Hook Justice, urging people to donate to his campaign. “This site is currently under construction,” Halbig writes, “so check back often for updates, as we work together to uncover the Sandy Hook Truth!”
Ryan Walsh contributed deep web reporting to this article.