In the wake of a deadly school shooting in Texas, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., the far-right dentist with ties to white nationalist groups, baselessly claimed on Tuesday that the suspected gunman was a "transsexual leftist illegal alien."
Gosar's tweet, which has since been deleted, came just hours after 18-year-old suspected gunman Salvatore Ramos opened fire on Tuesday at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, killing nineteen students and two teachers. As of this writing, there is no evidence that Ramos, who was killed by law enforcement, was left-wing, undocumented, or a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said that Ramos was an American citizen.
The claim that Ramos was transgender appears to have its roots in online chatter from 4chan, according to Vice. Users reportedly converged on photos of a Reddit account belonging to an artist whom they believed to be the Texas shooter.
One of the posters on 4chan reportedly acknowledged that the Reddit account is not connected to Ramos but said that "this was good optics," just as reports of the suspect's history of misogyny emerged.
"Let's just call every one of these school shooters trannies," they said. "No glory for degenerate losers."
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That claim seems to have percolated through right-wing channels of misinformation on other platforms, like Telegram and Gab, until being picked up by Gosar's office, as Vice noted.
On Tuesday, the artist attempted to set the record straight over Reddit, posting a picture of herself, captioned: "It's not me, I don't even live in texas."
"They are my pics," she wrote. "People are using [them] to make trans people look like murderers and blaming me for the shooting."
Shortly after Gosar's tweet, numerous Twitter users came forward to warn others about misinformation.
"I'm not even surprised that Republicans are spreading a false claim that the shooter in Texas is trans," tweeted journalist Cassandra Roxburgh. "It tracks with their policies which villify and harm trans people in the USA. The problem is never gun safety - it's always something else."
"Many are posting photos of a young male in women's clothing claiming it is the #Uvalde, Texas mass shooter. Those images are unconfirmed & unverified," cautioned Andy Gno, writer at the right-wing website The Post Millennial. "Please stop sharing them because in the event they aren't Ramos, you're harming someone who had nothing to do with the shooting.
"Good reminder," said Christina Pushaw, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' press secretary, in response to Ngo's tweet. "And some of the pics of trans people they're posting are obviously not Ramos.