The mystery of why Stephen Paddock smuggled an arsenal into a Las Vegas hotel room before firing into a crowd of concertgoers has only deepened since the massacre. That absence of information has provided an opening for right-wing media personalities like Alex Jones of InfoWars to offer their own theories, the New York Times reports. Their ideas, often based on scant evidence, fall in line with right-wing tropes about liberal conspiracies, and millions of Americans are listening. Jones, who has spread conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012 and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, has portrayed Paddock variously as an agent of the Islamic State, a leftist activist, an anti-Trump radical and a stooge for a broader conspiracy intent on disrupting democracy.
“Could Stephen Paddock, the lone Vegas shooter, have been a patsy to kick off the left’s war with the right in the streets of America?” Jones wrote on Facebook. The post accompanied a video titled “Video Shows Second Shooter During Vegas Massacre,” which by Monday had been viewed about 1.1 million times. InfoWars claims Paddock had an accomplice, highlighting a supposed room service receipt that seemed to suggest two guests were present. So far, the authorities have said Paddock was the sole gunman. The Drudge Report put InfoWars stories about the massacre across its traffic-driving home page last week. This is not the first time InfoWars has spread unfounded theories about national tragedies. Jones repeated false rumors about a child abuse ring at a Washington, D.C., pizzeria; a North Carolina man later fired a gun inside the restaurant. Jones later apologized. Jones’s website reached more than 1.4 million unique visitors in June, said the web tracking firm comScore.