Two conspiracy theorists who made a habit of harassing the survivors of the 2017 mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas have been arrested by police, the San Antonio Express reports.
Robert Ussery, 54, who founded the conspiracy website sidethorn.com, and his partner Jodi Mann, 56, who is also known online as the “Conspiracy Granny,” were arrested on the grounds of Sutherland Springs’ First Baptist Church after a church member called the police on them for trespassing. According to Pastor Frank Pomeroy, Ussery “continually yelled and screamed and hollered and told me he was gonna hang me from a tree, and pee on me while I’m hanging,”
The shooting was carried out in November of last year by 26-year-old gunman Devin Patrick Kelley and left 26 people dead.
Ussery and Mann both contend that the shooting was a hoax and that Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter, who was killed in the shooting, never existed — a common theme among conspiracists who target the victims of mass shootings. Police have not yet specified what the charges against the pair will be.
Speaking to Snopes.com, Pomeroy’s wife, Sherri, said that the harassment had been continuous since just after the shooting.
“It’s been ongoing, almost from the first day it happened,” she said. “They call it a drill from Homeland Security and say that none of it happened.”
From the San Antonio Express:
The conspiracy website Side Thorn is full of homemade videos — taken from TV news reports and Ussery’s own camera — supposedly proving that the Sutherland Springs massacre, in which 26 congregants were killed, did not occur. It also claims that the tragedies at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut; the Boston Marathon and the country music concert in Las Vegas are hoaxes devised by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The website’s homepage features a photo of a United States map with the words: “Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” It presents videos purporting to show Sutherland Springs residents practicing the shooting as “nothing but a staged drill.” There is audio of a victim’s family calling him and angrily demanding he leave her family alone.
This isn’t first time conspiracists have been arrested for harassing victims. As Snopes points out, 57-year-old Lucy Richards of Florida was sentenced to 5 months in prison in 2017 for sending threats to the father of a child killed in Newtown. In 2015, 30 year-old Timothy Rogalski was arrested for leaving harassing phone messages for the staff at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Featured image via screen grab/CBS Evening News