Fact check: Interviews with Uvalde victim's family spur baseless crisis actors conspiracy theory

The claim: Interviews with two men tied to same Uvalde victim show they are crisis actors

After the May 24 shooting massacre of 19 elementary school children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, some social media posts began perpetuating a conspiracy theory about one of the victim's families.

A video clip shared in a May 29 Facebook post shows CNN host Anderson Cooper interviewing Angel Garza, identified in the chyron as the father of Amerie Jo Garza, a 10-year-old girl who died during the shooting. The post also includes portions of NBC News host Savannah Guthrie's interview with another man identifying himself as Amerie's father. 

"Two men claim to be the father of the same child who allegedly died in the school. Maybe they're gay and are both her parents but did separate interviews," reads the caption of the post. "Doubtful. More likely crisis actors. And the dude in the cap is a poor actor at that."

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Similar posts, including ones connecting the identifications with assertions that shooting was a false flag operation, have amassed thousands of interactions on Facebook and Twitter

But the claim is false.

USA TODAY found no evidence the men are crisis actors. Cooper interviewed Amerie's stepfather, while Guthrie interviewed her biological father. Various news reports and Amerie's obituary make it clear that the two men have different identities. 

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.

Mourners pay their respects on May 27, 2022, at a memorial for the children and teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022.

Two fathers are not crisis actors

The Facebook post's claim echoes the baseless "crisis actor" conspiracy theory to explain the description of two different men as Amerie's father. Some social media users have co-opted that term in recent years to falsely claim that victims or their families involved in tragedies such as mass shootings are actually crisis actors.

But the identification of the two men referenced in the post has a much simpler explanation.

On May 25, Cooper interviewed Angel Garza, Amerie's stepfather. While the CNN chyron in that video labeled him as Amerie's father, CNN articles published May 27 and May 28 and various news reports from USA TODAYNBC 5 and CBS News identify him as Amerie's stepfather. 

Fact check roundup: What's true and what's false about the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas

Guthrie interviewed Alfred Garza III, who is Amerie’s biological father, on May 26. KSAT, an ABC affiliated station, and CNN have identified Alfred Garza III as Amerie's biological father.

Amerie's obituary also includes details indicating the difference. It reads "survived by her father, Alfred Garza III" and "step-father Angel Garza." Both men were outside the school at the time of the shooting, USA TODAY reported. 

USA TODAY reached out to CNN, NBC News and the victim's family for comment.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that interviews with two men tied to the same Uvalde victim show they are crisis actors. The post invokes a baseless conspiracy theory based on a simple misinterpretation of the two mens' identity. Various news reports and Amerie's obituary indicate that Angel Garza was her stepfather while Alfred Garza III was her biological father. They were both outside the school at the time of the shooting. 

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