Connecticut's attorney general has swatted away multiple requests -- made by conspiracy theorists -- for a state investigation into whether the worst elementary school shooting in U.S. history was a hoax.
George Jepsen, a Democrat in his first term as the state's top lawyer, expressed his bewilderment and disgust at the nature of those requests during an interview Wednesday with Hearst Connecticut Newspapers.
"Obviously, they have asked us to investigate whether the tragedy took place or whether it was framed by the government," Jepsen said. "We dismissed that out of hand and we don't investigate. It saddens and sickens me."
Twenty children ages 7 and under and six female educators were gunned down with a semi-automatic rifle on Dec. 14 when Adam Lanza forced his way into Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School and sprayed the classrooms, hallways and bathrooms with bullets before turning a pistol on himself.
A Danville, Va., woman claimed to the newspaper that she recently contacted Jepsen's staff, State Police and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to ask them to separate fact from fiction.
When reached on her cellphone Wednesday, the woman asked that her name be withheld from publication because she was fearful of retribution.
"There is no Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is not listed anywhere as an operating school," the woman said in an initial message. "I have raw footage from a helicopter" a news broadcasting service had taken just after the so-called massacre, which clearly shows the massacre never happened, either. A week ago, I would have said I was crazy. I'm not crazy. It definitely never happened."
Lt. J. Paul Vance, a State Police spokesman, reported fielding similar requests from the public since the tragedy.
"There's a few people out there that say this didn't happen," Vance said Wednesday. "Quite frankly, I find them offensive. I take the time to say, `I was there and saw it.' "
Vance is loath to get into a debate with conspiracy theorists, saying that he's had to block messages from some people who have repeatedly contacted him.
"It's offensive to the victims and the victims' families, in my opinion," Vance said. "There are parents who put their kids on the bus and never saw them again."
Last month, Vance sought to debunk reports on some websites that Lanza used handguns to kill his victims, not a Bushmaster XM-15 E2S rifle that is now at the center of a proposed federal assault weapons ban.
All 26 people murdered inside the school, Vance said, were shot with the .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle.
"We try to set them straight," Vance said Wednesday of so-called truthers.
Vance raised eyebrows in December when he said that authorities would seek to punish anyone spreading "disinformation" on the shooting via the Internet or social media.
On Wednesday, Vance said he was referring to persons attempting to mislead investigators or making bomb threats, as was the case in Ridgefield in the days after the massacre.
He said he was not trying to quash free speech rights.
Stephen Sedensky III, the state's attorney for the Danbury Judicial District, said he has received no criminal complaints along the lines of people trying to use the Internet or social media for illicit purposes in the wake of the shooting.
"No one has asked our office to look into conspiracy theories," Sedensky said.
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