A Democratic congressman fell for an Internet meme when he identified Sam Hyde as the shooter in the Sutherland Springs massacre. Rep Vicente Gonzalez told both CNN and Univision that Hyde was the man shot more than 20 people dead at the First Baptist Church just outside of San Antonio on November 5. The shooter has been identified by CBS News as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26.
Hyde has long been used by Internet trolls as a way to embarrass politicians and media sources. In June 2016, the Hyde-phenomenon was covered by Buzzfeed. The craze began in 2015 after the Umpqua Community College shooting and continued through San Bernardino in December 2015, the Pulse Nightclub shooting and the 2017 Las Vegas Strip shooting. The trolling has not been limited to mass shootings. Trolls have also tied Hyde to the shooting of Alton Sterling in July 2016. All of it is false, that’s clear, what isn’t clear is how the trolls became obsessed with Hyde, a native of Fall River, Massachusetts. The genesis of the Hyde meme can be traced back to “the dark heart of the Internet,” otherwise known as 4Chan.
The Buzzfeed article mentions that Hyde, who is Jewish, has been target of anti-Semitic bullying campaign led by neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer. The campaign involved spamming Breitbart articles with comments that mentioned Hyde. Hyde told Buzzfeed, “They were targeting a bunch of people but I suppose my name is the one that stuck. It is definitely anti-Semitic because when this all started going down I was receiving a ton of emails with things written like “You’re dead k***” and “commie Jew f***”… s*** like that.”
In October 2016, Hyde told Forbes about the craze saying, “My wife’s boyfriend [open relationship] heard it from the news first and so he and my wife’s son were both scared silly for a few days before everything was explained. I also got a call from my rabbi frantically trying to talk me out of doing anything more violent until finally I managed to explain to him that it was a hoax.” Though the Forbes reporter later discovered that the remarks about a rabbi and an open relationship was a joke targeted at liberals. Hyde has been an open Trump supporter.
Hyde is a member of comedy troupe called Million Dollar Extreme, according to a Policy Mic profile. That bio said that Hyde’s “most notorious” work was a TED talk which mocked the TED talk concept. The discussion was centered around how Hyde felt the world would look in 2070.
According to his official bio, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez is a former attorney who represents Texas’s 15th congressional district. He won the seat in 2016 and assumed office in January 2017. Gonzalez is a native of Corpus Christi and has lived his whole life in southern Texas. The congressman is married to school administrator Lorena Gonzalez.