Refuting Wolfgang Halbig, a Sandy Hook “truther”
A few days ago a reader forwarded me a story about a former police officer and teacher, who “served as an expert in the Columbine and other school shootings”, and is now claiming the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre never happened.
This man, Wolfgang Halbig, released an interview in which he listed numerous pieces of evidence which “prove” the event was fabricated. Halbig is a former state trooper and customs agent, plus a onetime educator and apparently a school safety official in Seminole County, Florida. His claims are inflaming those who already believed Sandy Hook was a hoax and pushing those on the fence into the conspiracy camp.
If Halbig’s bio has been reported correctly, it’s pretty impressive. One would think Halbig knows what he’s talking about. If I hadn’t read his list of supposed holes in the story, I might’ve thought he understood school shootings. I’ve Googled Halbig and seen many websites citing his claims, but no refutation from him; in other words, as far as I can tell he did say the Sandy Hook massacre never happened. If he did say that, he’s an idiot; impressive background or not, Halbig doesn’t seem to know the least bit about the realities of school shootings.
Now, a little about me. I’m not a school shooting expert. But I am a 20 year police officer who spent most of my time on night shift patrol in rough areas. I served several years as an adjunct Active Shooter instructor, teaching other officers how to respond to mass shootings. As an instructor I attended advanced active shooter training and played the role of the suspect in numerous exercises. I’m also a 25 year veteran of the Marine Reserve and Army National Guard, and served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have a pretty good background in tactics and a decent appreciation of the dynamics of mass shootings.
I’m going to address Halbig’s list of supposed Sandy Hook inaccuracies one by one. I’d ask you to consider my points, compare my background with Halbig’s, and decide for yourself if Halbig’s claims hold any water.
HALBIG’S LIST OF CLAIMS, AND MY REFUTATIONS
Point 1: “When the police arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School (SHES) that morning, they parked ¼ mile from the school’s front door instead of doing what first responders are supposed to do in an active shooter event, which is to neutralize the threat as quickly as possible so as to save as many lives as possible.”
When the official Sandy Hook report was released, I also heard rumors of officers parking a quarter mile away. But some of the responding officers have publicly stated they stopped in the school parking lot, rather than a faraway safe spot.
“They made it in under three minutes, arriving in the parking lot while gunfire could still be heard. ‘I got out of the car and grabbed my rifle and it stopped for a second,’ Officer Chapman said. ‘But then we heard more popping. You could tell it was rifle fire. And it was up so close, it sounded like it was coming from outside. So we were all looking around for someone to shoot back at.’”
Are those officers lying? I highly doubt it. I’ve worked for three police departments, two tiny and one which was among the largest in the country. I’ve also worked with police officers from all over the world as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. One thing I know about the vast majority of American cops: when shots are being fired, we charge toward them. One of the proudest moments of my police career occurred in Kosovo. A local police officer was shot at a hotel, and frantic radio reports rang out. I sprinted toward the hotel. Officers from some other countries weren’t too eager to approach that hotel, and a few went the other way. But Americans charged straight into the danger, as I’ve seen them do over and over here in America. I don’t believe for a moment that police officers in Newtown, upon hearing reports of a school massacre, all chose to park a safe distance away.
Besides that, the official report says this: “Upon the receipt of the first 911 call, law enforcement was immediately dispatched to the school. It was fewer than four minutes from the time the first 911 call was received until the first police officer arrived at SHES. It was fewer than five minutes from the time the first 911 call was received until the shooter killed himself. It was fewer than six minutes from the time the first police officer arrived on SHES property to the time the first police officer entered the school building.”
Doesn’t sound to me like officers had to run a quarter mile from their cars to the school.
Point 2: “Paramedics and EMTs (emergency medical technicians) were not allowed to enter the school. Instead they were kept waiting in the Sandy Hook fire station nearby, 500 yards down the road from SHES.”
This is kind of a “Wow, no kidding” statement. EMS protocol has traditionally been to remain out of the immediate danger area until it’s been declared safe by law enforcement. So it’s believable that EMS wasn’t allowed into the school until police cleared it. Whether that was a bad call or not (I think it was), it’s not the least bit suspicious.
Point 3: “Trauma helicopters, which can provide the quickest and best medical services in an emergency, were not sent to Sandy Hook. Life Star, the medical helicopter service at Danbury Hospital’s Trauma Center, told Halbig ‘we were never called, never asked.’”
In decades as a cop, having been on many shootings, stabbings and major accidents, I can only recall medical helicopters being called in on a few occasions. Helicopters require cleared landing zones, which often means clearing traffic from vital roads. This can’t always be done in an urban area, or at least it can’t always be done quickly. Transportation by road is sometimes faster than by air, when the time needed to get the helicopters into the air, clear a landing zone and move casualties to the LZ is taken into account. Ground ambulances can usually get casualties to a closeby hospital before a helicopter can be brought in.
And there are only so many helicopters available. Even if they had been called, some (maybe most) of the casualties would have been transported by ground anyway.
Point 4: “Where were the ambulances to transport the wounded to hospitals?”
Didn’t he just answer his own question? The ambulances were at the Newtown fire station, as mentioned in point 2.
Point 5: “Why did police declare 26 people to be dead within the first 11 minutes of the shooting, when according to Connecticut law, only a doctor can declare someone to be legally dead?”
What difference does that make? I’ve been on plenty of scenes where cops declared someone “DRT”, meaning “Dead Right There”. That’s not an official pronouncement, it’s the officer reporting what’s obvious to him or her. I once found a man who had been dead in his house for at least a week, and I reported him dead on the radio. The man was badly decomposed, obviously dead, but someone else still had to make the official pronouncement. On another call we had someone decapitated by an air bag. Yes we called them dead, and yes someone else had to make the official pronouncement. That’s not suspicious, it’s just legal procedure.
Point 6: “Why did the FBI classify the Sandy Hook massacre? This has never been done before. Even the Columbine School massacre was not classified information. To this day, the FBI report on Sandy Hook remains classified information, not releasable to the public.”
I don’t know anything about the FBI’s report. I do know that the FBI’s report isn’t the determining factor in whether or not this incident really happened. Local and state officers responded and investigated, and their report has been released. Some of the responding officers have spoken publicly about the incident. Radio and 911 transcripts have been released. Parents have made statements. So if the FBI doesn’t release their report, suddenly the entire incident was faked?
Point 7: “Why did the State of Connecticut wait ELEVEN whole months to issue its official final report on the Sandy Hook shootings to the American public? Note that the final report does not include the FBI’s still-classified report.”
Why did the investigation take eleven months? Probably because it was extremely complicated, with two murder scenes, one of which was more complex than any those officers had previously encountered. And that each of the twenty-seven murders had to be individually and exhaustively detailed. And that there was no rush to finish, because there was nobody alive to prosecute, so no concern about a “speedy trial”. And that the investigators knew their report would be torn apart by legions of “truthers” intent on exploiting anything from typographical errors to 30-second timeline mistakes.
So officers took a long time to issue a report on one of the worst tragedies America has ever experienced? It’s a conspiracy! And what would have happened if they had issued the report quickly? “Truthers” would have considered that evidence the entire incident was pre-planned, with the report written beforehand.
Point 8: “Police transmissions don’t lie because they are made by sworn and trained law enforcement officers. On the morning of Dec. 14, 2012, recorded police transmissions said ‘We have multiple weapons inside the [SH] classroom — a rifle and a shotgun.’ But nobody could find the shotgun in the school. Instead, a shotgun was found in the black Honda parked outside the school.”
Oh, brother. This statement makes me question Halbig’s exalted background as a police officer. Any cop who has been on more than one dangerous, adrenaline-charged scene knows officers make mistakes. Suspects are misidentified. People see things that aren’t really there. Cops call out bad directions (I was famous for that). Someone yells something that turns out to not be true and others repeat it. How many officers have reported seeing a weapon, suspicious object, suspicious person or whatever, and later found out they were wrong? Does anyone recall the search for the nonexistent third suspect at the North Hollywood Shootout?
A friend of mine arrived on a disturbance one night. Within seconds of arriving he was on the radio saying, “We really need an ambulance. I have a guy here with his eyeball hanging out, I think he’s been shot in the head.” When I arrived the ambulance was leaving, just as officers entered an apartment searching for the suspect. One of the officers had a shotgun. We found the suspect, and determined he had kicked the victim repeatedly in the head with cowboy boots. No gun was involved.
I went to the hospital to check on the victim. The paramedics who transported him not only told the emergency room staff that the victim had been shot in the head, but that “shots were still being fired when we were leaving the scene.” When I found the victim in a shock room, a doctor was standing over him explaining to a group of doctors in training, “Looks like the entry wound is here and exit is here. We’re going to treat him with [etc. etc.]”. I told the doctor he hadn’t been shot, he had been kicked in the head. The doctor was surprised. Later he told me I was right, there was no gunshot wound. And what the officer thought was an eyeball was actually a flap of forehead skin that had been torn free and was hanging over the victim’s face.
When I talked to the paramedics later, it turned out one of them had spread the “they were shooting as we left” story. He just got scared; he had a patient who looked like he had been shot, he saw officers with pistols and a shotgun going into an apartment, and perceived something that simply didn’t happen. Paramedics are just as professional as cops, just as interested in determining facts. But this one made a gigantic mistake, which was then repeated by several other people including a doctor. Professionals screw up sometimes.
I haven’t heard the radio traffic about two weapons, but if it happened, so what? I’m not the least bit surprised an officer called out something that turned out to be incorrect. It happens all the time. And it’s usually a result of adrenaline, fear, confusion, conflicting witness reports and everything else that cops encounter at high-stress scenes. If Halbig doesn’t know that, then I suspect that during his time as a “cop” he rode a desk far more than a patrol car.
Besides that, it’s pretty damn ridiculous for Halbig to cite the professionalism of police officers while simultaneously accusing every police officer involved in the Sandy Hook investigation of being part of this “conspiracy”.
Point 9: “At 9:45 AM that day, a police officer found a surviving kindergarten-aged girl in the hallway. The officer sent her back into Room 8 — a crime scene with students and teachers shot dead. What police officer would do that?”
Probably an officer who thought, “The room we just searched is clear, but the rest of the school isn’t. I don’t have extra people around to guard this girl or take her to safety. And there may be a suspect still loose in the school. So I should send her back into a safe room, and report her location on the radio.” Ordering her back into that room was probably the best bad option out of a list of bad options.
This comment reminds me of a debate I had before I deployed to Iraq. According to traditional military doctrine, you never, under any circumstances, evacuated a wounded soldier with a dead soldier. In the early years of the Iraq War some soldiers tried to hold on to that doctrine. But it didn’t always make sense. If a Humvee was hit by an IED and all the crewmen were killed or wounded, and they were under small arms fire, it wouldn’t make sense to have other soldiers make multiple trips into the kill zone when they can evacuate everyone at once. You make one trip in, load everyone you can, and get out. Sometimes war just sucks, and you have to do what you have to do.
In active shooter situations, we expect to step over the dead and ignore wounded who are screaming in agony and begging for help. We can expect some of those wounded to be women and children. The first officers on scene have to focus on finding the shooter and stopping the killing; if that means we have to send a little girl into a room full of dead people because it’s the only safe place, that’s what we have to do. In a situation where everything sucks, sometimes we have to make the least sucky decision. That’s the brutal reality.
Point 10: “Similarly, that morning, two Connecticut state troopers entered Room 10 and found an unharmed boy hiding in the bathroom. The troopers ordered the boy to stay in the room — a room with dead people. ‘That’s not police protocol.’”
See my above comment. Sure, that’s not protocol. So what? Does Halbig, with his alleged police background, think cops or anyone else always follow protocol? Amazingly enough, sometimes people don’t exactly follow the training they’ve received. I’m sure everyone reading this would be shocked – shocked! – to hear that teenagers still drive like idiots even after being taught not to. Or that soldiers don’t always hit their targets even after extensive marksmanship training. Or that cops, in the most terrifying, intense, chaotic, confusing scene they’ve ever been on, when they’re experiencing survival stress reactions like tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, time speeding up or slowing down, enhanced visual acuity and loss of manual dexterity, might not follow their training to the letter.
Cops are human. I can pretty much guarantee that none of officers at Newtown had responded to anything like the Sandy Hook massacre before. In the heat of the moment, they didn’t exactly follow protocol. Surprised? Me neither.
Point 11: “’Having investigated and given expert testimony on many school shootings, Halbig says ‘I know what tears look like.’ But the parents of slain Sandy Hook children, as we’ve noted here on FOTM, did not cry. (In the now famous case of Robbie Parker, the father of allegedly slain 6-year-old Emilie, he went from laughing and joking to pretending to choke back tears in the blink of an eye.)”
And I’d like to know how Halbig or anyone else knows the parent mentioned above was “pretending to choke back tears”. I’ve been around plenty of family members of murder victims, and it’s not unusual for them to go through intense mood swings.
Point 12: “Sandy Hook’s medical examiner Dr. Wayne Carver refused to let the parents see the bodies of their slain children, and instead gave them photos of the bodies, which is ‘unheard of.’ Halbig knows about the inconsolable grief of parents and is himself a parent. Parents whose children had been shot dead ‘would kick the door down’ demanding to see the bodies.”
I’ve never been on a scene where family members were allowed to see the bodies of murder victims. When the bodies are still where they fell, the area around them needs to remain as undisturbed as possible in order to preserve evidence. Until a body is examined and autopsied, the body itself is evidence that needs to be preserved. People not involved in the investigation aren’t allowed to see murder victims at will, they generally won’t see the body until it’s released to a funeral home after the autopsy.
And reasonable people don’t go kicking doors down to see dead bodies. Yes, I’ve been involved in a murder investigation where a mob did try to reach a dead body at an emergency room, and I know of another case where a mob chased a hearse with a dead accident victim to a funeral home. Neither of those cases involved reasonable people. I’ve been on many other murder scenes where family members patiently followed our every instruction, even if they were distraught.
Point 13: “Why was Sandy Hook Elementary School torn down? This is not the case with any of the other schools where shootings had taken place, including Columbine School.”
In this case, the community decided they didn’t want to continue using the school where 20 children and 6 educators were murdered. I don’t find that particularly surprising. Columbine High School wasn’t torn down, but its library, where the majority of victims died, was walled off.
Point 14: “Who installed the new security system at SHES? This should be a matter of public record.”
If it was a contract made by the city, then I imagine it is a matter of public record. What difference does that make? The security system didn’t enable or stop the massacre, and the school’s locked doors were an easily surmountable obstacle to Lanza. If we don’t know who installed the security system, does that signify something?
Point 15: “The shooting-to-death of 26 people would leave 45-60 gallons of blood. Who cleaned it up? What biohazard company was hired to clean the crime scene?”
Wait…what? According to medicinenet.com, a 150-pound body contains approximately 5.5 quarts of blood. With 26 victims that’s 143 quarts. Four quarts make a gallon, so 143 quarts of blood equals 35.75 gallons. And that’s if they were all adults. Children’s bodies hold less blood.
But that doesn’t matter, because when people are shot to death all their blood doesn’t automatically drain from their bodies. Halbig has either never been on a shooting murder scene or he’s completely forgotten what they look like. People bleed out because they have massive injuries and their hearts pump blood out from those injuries. When the heart stops pumping, the blood loss stops. I’ve seen some big pools of blood, but other than in a few serial murderer cases never heard of a murder victim being totally drained of blood.
Yes, that would have been a hell of a mess to clean up, even without the mythical “45-60 gallons of blood”. Was it cleaned up afterward? I don’t know. The school was never reopened, so did it need to be cleaned?
Point 16: “Why is there not even one lawsuit by a Sandy Hook parent against SHES for negligence? Halbig has never ever seen a school shooting without parents suing the school for negligence.”
Is it possible the parents really don’t blame the school for the mentally ill murderer who shot his way through locked doors, killed educators who tried to save their children, then murdered as many people as he could before shooting himself?
Point 17: “Why are there so many fund-raisers for the Sandy Hook shootings? Halbig: ‘I’ve never seen so many fund-raisers’ in the case of Sandy Hook. One fundraising alone, by United Way, netted $17 million, from which ‘every [SH] parent got a big chunk of money.’”
Okay. People donated funds to assist families whose children were brutally murdered. Obviously the incident never happened, because the United Way and others raised money. This proves that United Way was involved in the conspiracy.
I’m just not seeing a reason to throw out a conspiracy flag because Americans raised money to help families who had just suffered unimaginable tragedy.
Point 18: “Alleged shooter Adam Lanza, 20, is said to have Asperger syndrome — a high-functioning (in academics) form of austism. Halbig points out, however, that like those with autism, children with Asperger have ‘very very poor motor skills’ and ‘very poor muscle tone.’ How did Asperger-afflicted Adam Lanza with ‘very poor muscle tone’ carry a rifle, a shotgun, a handgun, and bullets? How did Asperger-afflicted Adam Lanza with ‘very very poor motor skills’ shoot 26 people dead — not wounded — in less than five minutes, firing one bullet roughly every two seconds?”
Unfortunately, I know a lot about autism. My youngest son is moderately autistic. Anyone who thinks everyone on the autism spectrum is affected the same doesn’t understand autism. Yes, some people with autism have poor muscle tone and poor motor skills. That doesn’t mean they can’t operate a weapon. My five year old son could probably hold and fire a rifle (his motor skills are just fine, by the way). There is no reason to believe Lanza was so weak physically that he couldn’t operate a rifle, or carry spare ammunition.
And does Halbig, who is supposed to be such an expert on school shootings, really think anyone needs real weapon-handling skills to murder a bunch of unarmed children? All they need to do is operate the weapon. Unarmed children, especially kindergarteners, aren’t going to do anything more than run or hide. Many would probably freeze in disbelief. Unarmed adults aren’t real hard to kill either, as we’ve seen in many active shooter incidents. Shooting defenseless, terrified people at close range doesn’t require Delta Force skills or even average physical strength.
Besides that, we already know children with little strength can operate an “assault rifle”. We’ve seen pictures and videos of it.
Halbig’s conclusions: “’In my professional opinion [as a school safety consultant], I suspect Sandy Hook was a scripted event that took place, in the planning for two or 2½ years.’…Halbig does not believe any child was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.”
Halbig sounds like a typical “truther”; he assumes our government, the same government absolutely incapable of even putting a health care website together, can pull off a gigantic conspiracy requiring thousands of willing participants. And these participants wouldn’t all be shadowy, ghostlike federal government Jason Bourne spies, either. Local cops and firefighters, the very people who serve and live in the small community where the massacre was “staged”, would have to willingly lie to the entire nation about it. Children who attended the school would have to lie. All the teachers would have to lie. Local officials would have to willingly play along with a narrative they know is false. People who live near the school would have to lie about hearing gunfire and having children knocking on their doors asking for help. And all these various disparate people, all the cops, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, neighbors, parents, reporters, all the thousands of people associated with the incident, are all in on the conspiracy? They were all part of this “scripted event”, they all knew in advance it was fake? Or did they spontaneously jump into the conspiracy at the first opportunity?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure many people did immediately recognize an opportunity to exploit the tragedy for political gain. Some of them doubtless believe in the morality of their cause, some others probably see it as a way to consolidate their own or their party’s power. But exploiting a tragedy isn’t the same thing as faking it.
The bottom line for me is that I don’t believe a bunch of regular, everyday Americans are lying about this. Why would they? Why would guys just like the cops I’ve served with for decades, teachers like my mom, sister and wife, and paramedics like the guys I’ve seen frantically trying to save strangers on many scenes, willingly lie about this? According to Halbig and every truther who agrees with him, not a single child died at Sandy Hook that day. So every cop on that scene lied about dead children they knew weren’t there. Every paramedic who claimed to have treated a victim knows there were no victims. Every neighbor who reported hearing gunfire knows not a shot was fired. Everyone who worked at Sandy Hook, every student there, knows nobody was murdered. But they’re all in on the lie anyway. Because they all passionately want gun control. Or something like that.
Halbig is reportedly going to travel to Newtown himself, so he can ask questions “eyeball to eyeball”. I’d highly suggest he carry a first aid kit. Because if I had lost a son or daughter at Sandy Hook, and some “truther” came around accusing me of lying about the brutal murder of my own child, I know exactly how I’d react.
Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com, Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).
Filed under: Uncategorized | 929 Comments
Tags: conspiracy, hoax, sandy hook, truthers
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