Since 2012, Florida man Wolfgang Halbig has been obsessed by the idea that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was a hoax.
In pursuit of proving this, he has spent the last eight years harassing the parents and families involved, claiming they are lying, sending them pictures of what he believes to be their children, alive and well and in their teenage years. He harassed Jeremy Richman, the father of Sandy Hook victim Avielle Richman — whom he insisted was alive and even singing with the Sandy Hook school choir at the Super Bowl in 2013 — until Richman took his own life last year in Newtown’s Edmond Town Hall. He has worked for Alex Jones at Infowars. He has been tapped by an NRA official seeking to prove that Parkland was a hoax.
And now he has been arrested for his harassment of Leonard Pozner, the father of Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner, whom he has previously claimed is a fictional character. Specifically, Halbig has been arrested on charges of unlawful possession of personal information (Pozner’s personal information to be exact).
Mr. Halbig, of Sorrento, Fla., was arrested after a complaint filed by Leonard Pozner, whose son Noah, 6, died in the shooting. The arrest affidavit said that Mr. Halbig repeatedly emailed Mr. Pozner’s Social Security number, date of birth and other information to a long list of recipients, including “multiple different law enforcement agencies and news stations.”
Mr. Pozner has tried since 2014 to stop Mr. Halbig from targeting Sandy Hook families and other victims of tragedy. In response, Mr. Halbig posted online a 100-page TransUnion background report on Mr. Pozner, which included his address and delicate personal information. Mr. Pozner lives in hiding.
Halbig was released on $5,000 cash bail and the current charges could lead to up to a year in prison. Why he is not also being charged with stalking is certainly a mystery.
Halbig wasn’t the only one to use this information. He shared it with other Sandy Hook “truthers” who also used it to harass Mr. Pozner. Despite still living in hiding, Pozner has become a major target of conspiracy theorists as he has taken to helping other families of mass shooting victims they enjoy harassing and started a non-profit, the HONR Network, to assist with that work.
“Truthers” like Halbig believe that all of these mass shootings are hoaxes created by the government, which they believe wants to use them to take their guns away. In their minds, grieving families are paid crisis actors who are trying to use the imaginary deaths of their imaginary relatives in order to evoke sympathy from the public, with the hopes that this sympathy will be leveraged to enact gun control — and they are absolutely livid about it.
They need this to be true. It can’t not be true. Not only because if it were not true it would mean that gun control is actually pretty necessary, but because they have invested their entire lives and identities into it being true. Far from seeing themselves as trolls or agents of cruelty, they sincerely believe that when they harass Pozner and others, they are being the good guys. They fully believe that they are going to wear these people down and they will admit to being crisis actors, and then the truthers will win and all of the people who called them delusional will have to apologize to them.
Halbig’s delusions do not extend only to conspiracy theories. He has also claimed to be a “School Safety Consultant” and to have driven in a motorcade protecting Dr. Martin Luther King during his time as a state trooper, despite the fact that he did not become a state trooper until 1974, a full six years after Dr. King had been assassinated. Sending him to prison for a year will be a relief for those he has dedicated himself to harassing, but if he doesn’t get any kind of treatment, it seems unlikely that he won’t just pick back up where he left off as soon as he’s out.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse