A shooting at a church in Texas occurred on Sunday, November 5, and police have identified the suspect as Devin Kelley. The 26-year-old shooter was found dead in his vehicle after allegedly killing 26 churchgoers and injuring well over a dozen others.
“We don’t know if it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound or if he was shot by our local resident who engaged him with gunfire,” authorities told the media.
Not long after the shooting was reported, conspiracy theories and rumors about the incident and the man police say is responsible surfaced online. According to Gizmodo, a Google search of “Devin Kelley” was kicking back results containing information about conspiracy theories and rumors about the deceased suspect. These conspiracy theories and rumors were seen in the “Popular on Twitter” module located under Google’s Top News widget.
Several articles have been written about Kelley and his rumored ties to various groups from Antifa to ISIS. People have claimed that Kelley’s Facebook page revealed that he was in a “Pro Bernie Sanders Group,” while other people claimed that he was a “#MUSLIM Convert,” or “a radical Alt-left, with potential ties to ANTIFA.” Another rumor that has been seen circulating online is that Kelley’s real name is “Samir Al-Hajeeda.”
Since Kelley’s Facebook page has been deleted from the social media platform, proving or disproving some of these theories and reports hasn’t been easy. It is, perhaps, why they continue to circulate.
Below, each conspiracy theory and rumor mentioned above is broken down.
1. Claim: Kelley Was an Antifa supporter
According to Snopes, there were rumors that Kelley “carried an Antifa flag and told churchgoers ‘this is a communist revolution.'” Some reports indicated that Kelley was trying to start a Civil War by “targeting white conservative churches.”
Although Kelley’s motive is still unclear at this time, Snopes points out that the Antifa rumors were started before there was much information available about Kelley. However, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar believes that Kelley had some sort of ties to at least one person who was a member of the church’s congregation and that his motive will soon be known.
“I’ve been talking to some community members. They think there was a relative there. It was not random. There’s going to be some sort of nexus between the shooter and this small community.… Somebody in that church will help us find answers.”
2. Claim: Kelley Was a Muslim Convert, Killed in the Name of ISIS & His Name Is Samir Al-Hajeeda
Despite social media chatter that Kelley was a Muslim convert and that he was acting on behalf of ISIS, police are not investigating this crime as such. There is no evidence that suggests that Kelley had ties to ISIS or any other organized terror group.
According to Buzzfeed, nothing about Kelley being a Muslim convert has been confirmed by authorities. Kelley didn’t “change his name” to Samir Al-Hajeeda, despite what you might have read. The name “Samir Al-Hajeeda” also came up in the Las Vegas concert shooting.
3. Claim: Kelley Was a Democrat & a Bernie Sanders Supporter
Kelley’s Facebook page was deleted before police released his name. For that reason, people claiming to have seen that the shooter was a democrat or that he was a “fan” of Bernie Sanders may have not even seen Kelley’s page before it was removed from the social media platform.
However, there is no evidence to suggest that Kelley was affiliated with either political party. In fact, according to the Denver Post, “Kelley registered as an unaffiliated voter in Colorado on Nov. 13, 2014, according to state voter records. But he never voted, and his registration was changed to inactive after his 2016 mail-ballot was returned.”
It is unclear if he was registered to vote in the state of Texas.