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Candles are lit at dawn on May 27, 2022 at a memorial site in the town square for the victims killed at an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. (AP) Candles are lit at dawn on May 27, 2022 at a memorial site in the town square for the victims killed at an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. (AP)

Candles are lit at dawn on May 27, 2022 at a memorial site in the town square for the victims killed at an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. (AP)

Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek May 27, 2022

Friday, May 27, was supposed to be the first full day of summer break for the students and staff of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Instead, it marked the end of a brutal week marred by loss, grief, heartbreak and anger, after 19 children and two teachers were killed at the school on May 24 by an 18-year-old shooter.

The attack was the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

The shooting became the focus of a wave of viral misinformation, fueled, in part, by the fact that details about the shooting and the police response have conflicted or changed over time.

PolitiFact has written more than a dozen fact-checks related to the shooting and has compiled a guide for avoiding misinformation about mass shootings. Media literacy experts recommend that you slow down, verify what you see online before you share it, and take care to ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of believing that information is true just because it was shared by someone with a large following.

Below is a round-up of our fact-checking, which debunks misinformation about the shooting and evaluates the veracity of comments that public figures made in response to the attack. Have a post or claim that you want us to fact-check? Send it to truthometer@politifact.com.

False claims about the Uvalde shooter 

Authorities identified 18-year-old Salvador Ramos as the gunman who shot and killed 21 people at Robb Elementary School. Ramos was killed at the scene by law enforcement. False claims about the shooter’s identity spread online.

  • Contrary to claims on Facebook, Ramos was not an immigrant illegally in the country. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that Ramos was a U.S. citizen. (This check was translated and is also available in Spanish.)

  • There’s no evidence to corroborate claims that Ramos was transgender or a "leftist."

  • Social media users shared photos of a woman wearing a skirt and falsely claimed the images showed Ramos. The photos were taken from the Reddit account of a transgender woman, who is still alive and says she does not live in Texas.  

  • ABC News did not publish an image of Ramos that was manipulated to make him "appear more Caucasian."

 

Fact-checks of public figures’ remarks after the shooting

As news of the shooting broke, some quickly made claims about mass shootings and about the effectiveness of policies meant to improve safety or reduce gun violence.

  • Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., claimed that "most of these killers tend to be 18, 19 years old." That’s Mostly True.

  • Studies found that mass shooting deaths rose sharply in the decade after the federal assault weapons ban expired, which is in line with a claim President Joe Biden made when he addressed the nation in the wake of the shooting. We rated his statement Mostly True.

  • There’s no evidence to support the claim that 50% of guns sold in Texas are sold without a background check. We rated that False.

  • Research does not support the idea that having armed law enforcement officers on school grounds is "the most effective tool for keeping kids safe," despite Sen. Ted Cruz’s claim. We rated that False.

  • Beto O’Rourke, a candidate for governor in Texas, said the state is "50th in the nation in mental health care access." That’s Mostly True.

  • Polls consistently show high support for gun background checks for all buyers, as Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said in an emotional speech before Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals. His statement rated Mostly True

  • There are multiple instances where the firearms used in mass shootings were purchased online or at a gun show, including the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, contrary to a claim made by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. We rated his statement False

  • A review of Cruz’s verified Twitter account shows that his tweets in response to mass shootings follow a similar pattern, but the messages aren’t copied and pasted as some social media users claimed. Their claims rated False.

  • Cruz claimed that in 2013, under a Democratic Senate, "a majority of the Senate voted in favor of" an amendment to tighten background checks, "but the Democrats filibustered it." This retelling is accurate up to a point, but it leaves out important context. We rated his claim Half True.

 

Claims that the shooting was a false flag event and other conspiracies

A false flag is a harmful action, such as an attack, that is designed to look like it was perpetrated by one person or group, when in fact it was committed by someone else. Following mass shootings, we often see unfounded claims that the attack was a false flag devised by governments seeking to enact gun control laws.

  • The shooting is still being investigated, but abundant, credible evidence shows that it was not a false flag attack.

  • Curious why some people think mass shootings are staged every time? We’ve written about that, too.

  • CNN did not report that the same man, a video gamer named Jordie Jordan, died in Uvalde and Afghanistan. 

False claims about the victims, what happened on scene

Crosses with the names of the May 24 school shooting victims are placed outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 26, 2022. (AP)

Information is still emerging about what happened at Robb Elementary, but some claims made about the victims and what happened on scene have been debunked.

  • A photo collage shared on Facebook falsely claimed to show the Uvalde victims. Instead, it depicted the 20 students and six adults who were killed at Sandy Hook. (This check is also available in Spanish.)

  • A branch of Immigration and Customs Enforcement was on scene to assist with the investigation, not to deport parents illegally in the country. (This check is also available in Spanish.)

  • There’s no evidence to corroborate claims that Abbott offered to pay the uncle of a Uvalde shooting victim to say that he doesn’t support stronger gun laws. Abbott denies this happened.

We fact-check inaccurate statements from people in power, regardless of political party. Support the truth today.

RELATED: Here’s how to avoid misinformation as you read about Uvalde and other mass shootings

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Fact-checking misinformation about the Uvalde school shooting