Aurora Truther arrested for harassing families

A man in Oregon is charged with menacing the families of the victims of July's shooting spree

Topics: Aurora shooting, Guns, Conspiracy theorists, conspiracy theory,

Aurora Truther arrested for harassing familiesA SWAT team officer stands watch near an apartment house where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theater lived in Aurora, Colo., July 20, 2012. (Credit: AP/Ed Andrieski)

Police in Portland, Oregon arrested a native of the state yesterday on charges that he has been harassing family members of some of those killed in the Aurora, Colorado shooting. “In the beginning it was this conspiracy theory stuff,” Aurora police spokesman Frank Fania said, “then it went away from the conspiracy theory into personally attacking the families, calling them names and hoping bad things would happen to them.”

As with the Sandy Hook shooting, the Aurora massacare has attracted a host of conspiracy theories, and harassment of victims has gotten so bad that prosecutors there asked the judge to redact the names of victims in court documents to spare them the “relentless contacts by proponents of purported ‘conspiracies.’”

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Kevin Michael Purfield, the 45-year-old man arrested in Portland, also posted messages on his Facebook page and blog that seemed to endorse conspiracy theories about 9/11 and the Sandy Hook shooting. Purfield was jailed in lieu of $10,000 bond and will be arraigned in court today.

Jordan Ghawi, whose sister was killed in the Aurora shooting, told Salon last month that he had received death threats and constant harassment from conspiracy theorists. “Some of these people are incessant. They don’t stop,” he said.

Even some presumably credible people, like Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt, have given credence to Aurora conspiracy theories. “We have to admit that this is something that maybe our government is capable of,” Pratt told conspiracy journalist Alex Jones of the notion that government agents carried out the shooting as part of a “false flag” operation. “This was only 12 people murdered [in Colorado], they were good for 400 in Fast and Furious.”

In Newtown, theorists have stalked the town and visited the homes of those who helped victims of the shooting.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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