Conspiracy theorists harass Sutherland Springs churchgoers, pastor whose daughter was killed
"The truth shall set you free" is the message that two conspiracy theorists were writing on a poster at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, the site of the November mass shooting that left 26 congregants dead.
But what they're peddling is anything but the truth.
The conspiracy theorists, Jodi Mann and Robert Ussery, believe the mass shooting never happened and instead that it was staged by the Department of Homeland Security, according to Ussery's website, "Side Thorn Journalist."
They don't believe the victims are real or that their graves are real. And the pastor, Frank Pomeroy, told the San Antonio Express-News that the conspiracy theorists had gone so far as to demand proof of his daughter's birth certificate. His daughter, 14-year-old Annabelle, was killed in the shooting.
For months, Pomeroy said, the conspiracy theorists have been harassing the church members this way. Monday was the last straw.
Pomeroy was outside the church in his car when he saw Mann and Ussery writing the message on the poster board, and he got out to confront them, he told the Express-News. He said they started yelling at him -- and threatening him.
"[Ussery] continually yelled and screamed and hollered and told me he was gonna hang me from a tree, and pee on me while I'm hanging," Pomeroy told the Express-News.
A church member, seeing the ruckus, called the police. Ussery and Mann, known as "Conspiracy Granny" online, were arrested on charges of trespassing and resisting arrest Monday. Ussery was additionally charged with making a terroristic threat and possession of marijuana. They were released from the Wilson County Jail on Wednesday, according to The Dallas Morning News.
On Wednesday, Ussery reportedly told BuzzFeed News that he and Mann are "are 100% innocent of all charges, expect the possession of marijuana charge, which we proudly accept."
According to Ussery's website, the pair believes that 33 tragedies, including the Parkland school shooting, Sandy Hook school shooting, the Las Vegas massacre, the Charleston church shooting and Boston Marathon bombing, are all fake. They believe the events are all "false flag" operations organized by the federal government and then mourned over by "crisis actors" for political motivations.
Conspiracy theorists have been engaging in online hounding of survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as well.
Indeed, the latest video on Ussery's site says the Florida shooting is "100% proof of crisis actors." He offers a $100,000 reward "for proof of death in any of the listed staged events. They are all drills using crisis actors that were sold to the public as real. NO DEAD, NO WOUNDED."
Pomeroy, or other members of the church, have tried not to engage them.
"He said, 'Your daughter never even existed. Show me her birth certificate. Show me anything to say she was here,'" Pomeroy told the Express-News. "I just told him there was enough evidence already visible, so if he chooses not to see that, how would I know he would believe anything else?"