Alex Jones Ordered to Pay $965 Million to Sandy Hook Families

How Jones got himself into hot water – and is now facing the consequences

Michael Zimmermann, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Michael Zimmerman

Michael Zimmermann, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

It has been nearly ten years since a gunman opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School during the morning of December 14, 2012. Jurors have ordered conspiracy theorist and InfoWars founder Alex Jones to pay upwards of $965 million in punitive damages to the families of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims. Jones has made outlandish and offensive claims for years about the Sandy Hook shooting, suggesting that the shooting was a hoax, created by the U.S. government as a part of a plot to take Americans’ guns away. The shooting left 28 victims dead, 20 of them children. 

Jones claimed on his podcast after the shooting, “Why did Hitler blow up the Reichstag — to get control! Why do governments stage these things — to get our guns! Why can’t people get that through their head?” He also said the families of victims interviewed on the news were paid crisis actors. When a father of one of the victims was interviewed on the news, Jones reacted, “It looks like he’s saying, ‘OK, do I read off the card?’ He’s laughing, and then he goes over and starts basically breaking down and crying.” Because of these outrageous claims, he was on trial.

Jones’ vast influence over Americans has put families of the victims in danger. There were many stories of people who continue to believe Jones’ claims and harassed families all throughout the trial. The families spoke of being cursed at in public, as well as having strangers showing up to their houses to record them. Mark Barden, whose son Daniel passed away in the shooting, testified that supporters of Alex Jones urinated on the grave of his 7-year-old son and threatened to dig up his coffin. Erica Lafferty, the daughter of Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, who also died in the shooting, testified that people mailed rape threats to her house. The verdict  on October 12th awarded a total of $965 million distributed across 15 different families. In a separate case against Jones earlier this year, $49 million was awarded by a Texas jury to another Sandy Hook family. A third trial scheduled for later this year could add to the total owed by Jones. He has claimed his net worth to be under $2 million, but experts believe the estimated net worth of Jones and his company Free Speech Systems to be as high as $270 million. 

Either way, Jones does not intend to pay a dime, saying, “Do these people think they’re actually getting any money? Literally, for hundreds of thousands of dollars, I can keep them in court for years.” The catch is if Jones stops podcasting as a result of the outcome, he earns nothing, therefore owing nothing. “If Alex Jones decides that continuing to make podcasts is just going to enrich the people he’s harmed — or rightfully allow them to recover what they’re due — then Alex Jones may very well go off the airwaves,” said Nicholas Koffroth, a bankruptcy lawyer involved with the case. Jones’ lawyers have stated that the trial was unfair and they have now requested a retrial. This verdict is a huge blow to conspiracy theorists like Jones, who may now be deterred from spreading misinformation similar to that spread about Sandy Hook.