Facts Matter: Deadly Colorado shooting was not a false flag

As numerous bits of false information circulate on social media each day, the most vile posts are those that follow tragic events in which regular, innocent people are killed, unexpectedly taken away from their loved ones.

The horrific shooting last week at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is no exception.

Five people were killed Nov. 19 at the LGBTQ nightclub when a gunman began shooting as he entered the venue, according to news reports. The shooter was then subdued by people at the club before police arrived.

Some social media posts claim the deadly scene was staged because it was linked to QAnon conspiracy theories.

"Odd that the place was called Club 'Q.' I smell False Flag," a Twitter user wrote.

But there was "nothing fabricated" about the shooting. Raymond Green Vance, 22, Daniel Aston, 28, Ashley Paugh, 35, Derrick Rump, 38, and Kelly Loving, 40, were killed.

Club Q opened in the early 2000s, according to PolitiFact. QAnon didn't emerge as a conspiracy theory until 2017. The 911 calls, along with statements from witnesses and law enforcement officials, are evidence this shooting happened.

The term "false flag" has been used to make baseless claims that a violent and often deadly attack was staged. Other incidents that have been called false flags include the killings in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde County, Texas; and at the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park.

Comment out of context

A video circulating online appears to show President Joe Biden expressing a disparaging comment about Mexicans.

"I'm going to take down those rapist Mexicans," Biden says in the short clip.

But this video is taken out of context and does not express the president's feelings, according to Reuters. Biden was referring to comments made by former President Donald Trump.

The clip is taken from a 2019 speech Biden gave in San Antonio, Texas, prior to the 2020 election.

"This election is about the soul of our nation. And Donald Trump has poisoned our soul," Biden said. "He fans the flames of hate, hate groups, white supremacists here at home. Coming down the escalator when he announced in Trump Tower, he said - he was doing it before he hit the ground floor. Remember, he said, 'I'm going to take down those rapist Mexicans.'"

It appears Biden is referring to a speech Trump made when announcing his candidacy for president in 2016.

"(Mexico is) sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people," Trump said.

Trump didn't return to Twitter

Former President Donald Trump's Twitter account was reinstated by new owner Elon Musk on Nov. 19. Musk had conducted a poll of Twitter users asking if Trump should be let back on the social media platform. Nearly 52% of respondents said Trump's account should be restored.

Almost immediately, a screenshot of a tweet that appeared to be from the former president was posted on Instagram.

"It is true that I am back. Sending warm greetings to all the haters and losers who voted against me in @elonmusk's poll. We love democracy! For my first tweet, I am looking for recs on lawyers who rep people in cases of 'light' treason. Asking for a friend…," read the post.

But it didn't come from Trump, according to PolitiFact. As of this writing, he has not posted anything on Twitter since his account was suspended on Jan. 8, 2021.

In a recent speech during the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual leadership meeting, Trump said he didn't have plans to get back on the platform, The Hill reported.

"I don't see any reason for it. They have a lot of problems at Twitter. You see what's going on. It may make it, it may not make it," he said.

Outer space is real

"Outer Space is a hoax," reads the text included with a meme making the rounds on social media, questioning the existence of space.

"If outer space was a vacuum, astronauts would train in vacuum chambers, not in swimming pools," the meme reads.

But the claim is false, "citing incorrect evidence and reaching an incorrect conclusion," according to USA Today.

Astronauts train in both vacuum chambers and swimming pools, NASA spokesperson Daniel Huot told USA Today.

Astronauts use vacuum chambers "to get acquainted with the pressure changes that happen" and train in large pools "using specially weighted spacesuits, as that is the best way to simulate ... microgravity," Huot said.

Observations from Earth and space missions provide ample evidence that space is real.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at

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