A Florida Atlantic University professor is catching heat from Newtown officials following his claim that the recent massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut didn't happen as widely described by the media.
In interviews with several newspapers and radio stations, James Tracy, 47, an associate professor of communications at the university in Boca Raton, said that while he is “left with the impression that a real tragedy took place” in Newtown, he also believes that at the very least, appearances by law enforcement officials and family members were “contrived” by the White House for the purpose of spinning the story for political gain.
His comments have sparked outrage from Newtown officials, who are calling on Florida Atlantic to fire him. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school on Dec. 14 claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.
A university spokeswoman for Florida Atlantic has distanced the school from Tracy’s comments. In a statement to the New York Daily News, Lisa Metcalf said "James Tracy does not speak for the university. The website on which his post appeared is not affiliated with FAU in any way."
Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra, who is also a former teacher, told FoxNews.com, "Shame on you, too, FAU, to even have someone like this on your payroll.
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“Professor Tracy is an embarrassment to me as an educator and should be to you as well. I can assure you, sadly, that the events here in Newtown unfolded exactly as are being reported, with the horrible outcome of the violent death of 26 innocent people, including 20 children.”
Tracy claimed that the timeline and narrative surrounding the Sandy Hook shooting was gradually altered by news outlets and law enforcement officials as the story unfolded. He claimed it was part of a larger conspiracy perpetrated by the Obama administration and complicit law enforcement authorities.
"While it sounds like an outrageous claim, one is left to inquire whether the Sandy Hook shooting ever took place — at least in the way law enforcement authorities and the nation's news media have described,” he wrote on his personal blog, Memory Hole, in which he sets out to debunk myths and issues that he claims have been “misreported by mainstream media.”
Similar to the speculation that surrounded the assassination of John F. Kennedy, one of the central hooks of Tracy’s conspiracy theory is that the shooting was staged and carried out by more than one gunman; Tracy said that he believes that there were three in total. To substantiate his theory, he pointed to what he called various inconsistencies in media reporting, including initial speculations that there had been two shooters -- that notion was quickly dropped.
He also pointed to the statement of an eyewitness who claimed to have seen two shadows running away from the building, and the original public statement of Connecticut medical examiner, H. Wayne Carver II, who said that he did not believe Adam Lanza had killed himself.
Tracy theorized that “[the Newtown] storyline was to a substantial degree constructed by federal and state law enforcement authorities and major media around the theory that 20-year-old Adam Lanza was the sole agent in the massacre.”
Tracy blogged about the Sandy Hook shooting for the first time in a post that was published on Dec. 20, titled, “Analyzing the Newtown Narrative: Sandy Hook’s Disappearing Shooter Suspects.”
Tracy, who teaches a university class called "The Culture of Conspiracy," has received mixed reviews from his students. Anonymous commenters on the popular website, Rate My Professor, gave the professor both positive and negative reviews, with some calling Tracy "a great teacher" and an "intellectual," while others accused him of being pompous, hating America, and suggested he needed mental health attention.