Fake School Shooting Witness: News outlets correct - iMediaEthics

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(Credit: London Allen)

The Texas Tribune revealed that David Briscoe, a man who claimed to have been a substitute teacher working the day of the May 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting, is apparently a hoax victim.

As iMediaEthics has reported, after breaking news events, some people fake being victims or witnesses and give media interviews. For example, the UK Daily Star published a photo of a girl who it said was missing after the Manchester bombing attack at a 2017 Ariana Grande concert. But, the girl wasn’t missing and was at home with her family. Her photo had been used as a hoax.

The Texas Tribune reported that Briscoe gave interviews to Time, CNN, Austin American-Statesman, and the Wall Street Journal, alleging he was at the scene of the shooting, blocked the doors to protect students, and quit teaching and moved out of state.

But, the Texas Tribune reported the Santa Fe Independent School District’s spokesperson Lindsey Campbell said they didn’t have an employee named David Briscoe. “We are extremely disappointed that an individual that has never been a part of our school community would represent themselves as a survivor of the mass violence tragedy that our community endured,” Santa Fe ISD Superintendent Leigh Wall told the Texas Tribune. “This situation illustrates how easily misinformation can be created and circulated, especially when the amount of detailed information available is limited due to the still ongoing investigation.”

According to the Tribune‘s report, someone using the Twitter handle @davidbbriscoe contacted the paper in April 2019 to discuss the shooting a year after the fact. Then, the Tribune began looking into the case. A few weeks after the first contact, the Twitter user denied talking to the Tribune and claimed someone stole his social media identity and he never lived in Texas.

CNN added the following editor’s note:

“This article has been updated to remove comments from a man who identified himself to CNN as having been inside the school at the time of the shooting. The Santa Fe Independent School District told CNN that it had no record of employment for the man who identified himself as David Briscoe, a substitute teacher there. CNN has removed his quotes from this article.”

The Wall Street Journal added this correction:

“This article and headline have been updated to remove comments from a man who identified himself to The Wall Street Journal as having been inside the school at the time of the shooting. The Santa Fe Independent School District said that it had no record of employment for the man who identified himself as David Briscoe, a substitute teacher there. (June 27, 2019)”

When contacted by iMediaEthics, the Wall Street Journal said, “On May 20, 2018, The Wall Street Journal published an article that used a first-person account of a man identifying himself as David Briscoe. Since publication, we have discovered that this person misrepresented himself and his involvement to us. We have removed him from the piece and we apologize to our readers for the misinformation. We are reviewing how this error was made and will take steps to safeguard against this in the future.”

The Austin American-Statesman added an editor’s note reading:

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to change the headline and remove comments from a man who identified himself as a substitute teacher in a classroom near the shooting at Santa Fe High School. He was later determined to be an imposter who was not at the school during the shooting. After questions were raised about the man’s identity, the Santa Fe Independent School District said in a statement: “We are extremely disappointed that an individual that has never been a part of our school community would represent themselves as a survivor of the mass violence tragedy that our community endured on May 18, 2018. This situation illustrates how easily misinformation can be created and circulated, especially when the amount of detailed information available is limited due to the still ongoing investigation into the events of May 18, 2018. We appreciate the efforts of those working to correct this misinformation. As a district our focus has always been and continues to be on supporting the needs of our students, staff, and community through the healing and recovery process.”

Time magazine has added an editor’s note to its May 2018 story that removes Briscoe’s quotes. The editor’s note reads:

This story has been updated to remove quotations and information attributed to a man who identified himself as David Briscoe and said he was a substitute teacher at Santa Fe High School at the time of the shooting. After learning of questions surrounding his identity, a representative for the Santa Fe Independent School District told TIME Wednesday that it had no record of employment for anyone with that name.”

Hat Tip: New York Times / Erin McCann


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