The fever-pitch surrounding Sandy Hook Trutherism is simmering, however a small, yet vocal movement is still feverishly working to convince the greater society that the event either didn't happen -- or that key details are being hidden from the public. We already brought you a point-by-point debunk of the Sandy Hook conspiracy, tackling some of the most talked-about claims. But TheBlaze article was published on Jan. 23, and, since that time, Truthers have come out with new ideas and theories aimed at poking holes in the official narrative.
Among the more recent projects is "Sandy Hook -- The Documentary," a nearly-three hour YouTube movie produced by 31-year-old Mark Howitt, a Canadian who has a deep interest in studying the facets surrounding events like the Sandy Hook massacre. TheBlaze interviewed Howitt late last week to learn more about his motivations for creating the film and to better understand the Truthers' curious stance.
HOW "SANDY HOOK -- THE DOCUMENTARY" CAME TO FRUITION
Howitt, who runs a record label called Archaic North Entertainment, describes himself as a regular guy whose curiosities were sparked by inconsistencies he found in the official Sandy Hook story.
"Well, obviously the anomalies that were being reported by the media was what sparked my initial curiosity," he told TheBlaze.
The novice filmmaker said that he didn't start exploring the shooting until two or three weeks after it happened. By the time he began investigating, Howitt said the media had already settled comfortably into embracing the police narrative.
He claims that the points raised by Sandy Hook Truthers are the result of legitimate confusion over events and police accounts that simply don't make sense. Plus, he noted that human nature causes people to have a thirst for quenching curiosities, especially when events seem confusing or unbelievable.
"I'm sure we all love a good murder mystery. We're all into trying to figure out what's going on," Howitt said. "That's why people are looking into this. There's a lot of evidence there and confusion...[it's] cloudy and muddy."
Many of those questioning the event take issue with being called "Truthers" and conspiracy theorists, so they remain anonymous. But Howitt, who has no qualms about attaching his name to the movement, is entirely open about his identity. In describing Truthers, he told TheBlaze that while those casting doubt on the official Sandy Hook story are all clumped under a monolithic category, there is actually a fair bit of divisiveness among the cohort.
"There is a division that is amongst us, where there is some people who believe that people actually died and another portion that believe that there were all actors," he said of the victims and their families.
A man holds a sign at a gun rights rally at the Capitol in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. The rally, dubbed, "Guns Across America", at Connecticut's state Capitol and state capitol buildings across the country to raise concerns about possible new gun legislation that could affect gun owners' rights in the wake of the Dec. 14 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Credit: AP
Howitt himself hasn't always had the same stance. While he told TheBlaze that he initially embraced the crisis actor theory (read more about this in our initial analysis), he has since moderated his position. While he claims to have encountered "anomalies" while investigating the history of Newtown, Conn., and the businesses within, he now believes that the event happened (i.e. this isn't a made-up situation involving actors), but that key details are being hidden from the public.
"The reason I believe [people died] -- the main reason is because of the scale of how many people were involved," Howitt said. "Sandy Hook has been a school for a while. It's not like they built the school and said, 'Everyone's going to play their part.'"
The documentarian said that the crisis actor situation, given everything that is now known about the event, no longer makes sense.
"I've heard enough witness testimonies to lead me to believe that this actually did happen," he told TheBlaze.
THE SHOOTING'S ALLEGED INCONSISTENCIES
But while Howitt believes that the tragedy unfolded, there are some key elements he believes authorities may be hiding -- and he thinks the government might be involved in the planned killing spree.
"There's a lot of evidence supporting that there was a group of people involved -- that Adam Lanza was not the only one involved in the operation, if at all," he said. "It's impossible to debunk this evidence. On the police scanner you can hear seven suspects discussed -- including Adam Lanza."
Here, it's important to note that Howitt explicitly used the word "operation" to describe the shooting, a term reserved for planned events and occurrences. As far as the suspects go, the filmmaker clearly believes that many others aside from the lone gunman were involved in the plot.
"That's where you will find the account of what happened...when you see the order of events happening and then you hear all the suspects being detained and the identity of these suspects [was] never released," Howitt charged.
A women fires a handgun at the 'Get Some Guns & Ammo' shooting range on January 15, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lawmakers are calling for tougher gun legislation after recent mass shootings at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Credit: Getty Images
As for Lanza, the lone gunman, Howitt has his doubts about both his background and physical ability to carry out such a massive assault. He told TheBlaze that Lanza certainly existed, but that there are sparse records of the young man's activities over the past few years. Howitt also wondered what Lanza has been doing for the past three years and expressed a desire to know more about the shooter's life preceding the event.
The conspiracy theorist also mentioned the guns used in the shooting -- a common target of Truthers' angst. Based on police audio, Howitt claimed that a shotgun was found in the school (police have since debunked the claim that the shotgun was brought into Sandy Hook Elementary). The filmmaker also said that authorities on the recordings do not mention handguns being inside the building -- something that he believes is inconsistent with the story given by authorities.
Furthermore, Howitt questioned how Lanza would be able to carry all of the weapons and ammo on his own, again attempting to corroborate the notion that multiple shooters might have been involved.
"How could one 20-year-old, 120-pound skinny kid walk in with all that ammo plus all the clips and the bullets that would be needed?," he asked, calling this idea "physically impossible."
A GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY TO ERODE THE SECOND AMENDMENT?
Of course, most Sandy Hook Truthers -- and Howitt is no exception -- root their theories in the notion that the government either manufactured the massacre or embellished the events in an effort to disarm Americans and to erode the Second Amendment.
The documentarian mentioned an overwhelming lack of trust in the U.S. government as being another catalyst for conspiracy theories surrounding Sandy Hook. Last week, TheBlaze reported about the public's shocking rise in distrust for the federal government. With the rise of skepticism comes increased individual research, Howitt said.
"We're definitely not being told the whole story and I believe that agents of the government -- and maybe the president doesn't know they exist, maybe they are that covert -- maybe certain members of the CIA were involved in this," he told TheBlaze, adding that these theories are merely conjecture. "I have no evidence of this."
Howitt continued, saying that historical examples show that the president isn't always aware of "covert operations" that are underway. In the case of Sandy Hook, he believes that it is entirely possible that the goal is to disarm the American public.
Parents of Sandy Hook Elementary massacre victims hold hands during a press conference on the one month anniversary of the Newtown elementary school massacre on January 14, 2013 in Newtown, Connecticut. Eleven families of Sandy Hook massacre victims came to the event one month after the shooting to give their support to Sandy Hook Promise, a new non-profit with the goal of preventing such tragedies in the future. Credit: Getty Images
"Because of the guns planted in the school -- the shotgun in the school among other anomalies -- that this whole thing was to try to disarm people and attack the Second Amendment," he said. "It seems like -- it's hard to explain really, because there is so much conflicting information out there."
The filmmaker went on compare Lanza to Lee Harvey Oswald, President John F. Kennedy's assassin, raising the idea that Lanza might have been a CIA agent or operative.
"If people showed us the video footage, we wouldn't be questioning these stories," he added, referring to surveillance footage from inside the school that would corroborate authorities' claims that Lanza was a lone wolf.
The filmmaker said that he believes fervently in gun rights, despite being a Canadian and claimed that he currently enjoys the same freedom as Americans to protect his family. Howitt affirmed the importance of America's Second Amendment and seemed diligent about protecting its tenets.
HOW THE FILMMAKER RESPONDS TO CRITICS
When asked how he responds to the multitudes of Americans who think that Truthers are wrong-headed (or crazy) in their assertion that Sandy Hook is at least, in part, a government cover-up, Howitt seemed surprised by the question. In fact, he told TheBlaze that he believes the "majority of the people don't believe the official story."
"I don't see a lot of people saying that these theories are crazy -- I see the opposite actually," he said. "I see people saying, 'This is not right.' I'm not talking about just America. I'm talking about the world."
As for the government, if, indeed, officials are covering up the shooting, Howitt claims that they will do whatever is needed to keep it under wraps. The future, he contended, could be bleak (although he didn't go into greater detail about what, exactly, he meant).
"I feel there are big problems ahead -- bigger problems then just Sandy Hook," he said.
A memorial is displayed in a yard near the Sandy Hook Elementary School on the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting that left 26 dead, including 20 children in Newtown, Conn., Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Credit: AP
But outsiders who dismiss Truthers aren't Howitt's only ideological foes. He also faces critics from within the conspiracy theory movement, specifically those who embrace the crisis actor scenario. Because the filmmaker believes that the event actually unfolded, those who reject it as a government-manufactured stage-play view Howitt as an outsider. He said that these individuals have, thus far, dismissed his views and attacked his theories.
HOWITT'S VIEWS ON 9/11 -- AND SOME SANDY HOOK FLIP-FLOPS
It's not a stretch to say that a connection has been made between those who reject the 9/11 attacks as a government conspiracy and those who cast doubt on the official narrative surrounding Sandy Hook. When asked to share his views on 9/11, Howitt said that he believes the terror attack happened -- but that he can't be sure about the perpetrator.
"I was shocked and I was like...'I can't believe this happened,' and that's when...I started realizing that things weren't adding up sometimes when it came to government and the media," he said. "I can't really say 100 percent with all assuredly that I believe it was done by al Qaeda or anything like that. Bin Laden was also tied with the CIA [and] that got me looking into things more."
Like Sandy Hook, 9/11 still offers up many anomalies to be considered, he says. Perhaps realizing that his Trutherism was beginning to paint a pattern, Howitt cautioned that he doesn't believe that every event is mired with hidden secrets.
Despite holding views and asking questions that many would dismiss, Howitt also appeared open to changing his stances -- and even backtracked on some of the content that he presented in his nearly three-hour documentary. While he initially casted doubt on Sally Cox, the nurse at the school (see our original report to see the claims that Truthers waged against Cox), he now believes that reported inconsistencies surrounding the nurse's story were the result of media exaggeration and not purposeful lies.
Heavily armed Connecticut State troopers are on the scene at the Sandy Hook School following a shooting at the school, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. A man opened fire inside the Connecticut elementary school where his mother worked Friday, killing 26 people, including 18 children, and forcing students to cower in classrooms and then flee with the help of teachers and police. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Frank Becerra Jr.) MANDATORY CREDIT, NYC OUT, NO SALES, TV OUT, NEWSDAY OUT; MAGS OUT Photo: Frank Becerra Jr., AP
He also addressed claims that Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, the chief medical examiner who handled the Sandy Hook case, is a crisis actor.
"I've heard claims that Dr. Carver is an actor and that's ridiculous," he said. "He's been the state examiner for quite some time."
Howitt also said that there are other elements of Truthers' claims that can be explained. Among them: The charge that fundraiser pages for victims were created before the shooting took place (we also debunked this here). He said that some of the explanations posited by web experts (that Google doesn't always archive dates correctly, that some of the pages were created for other purposes and changed to be for the victims and other similar theories) are built on solid ground.
In a future version of the film, Howitt said he may shorten the documentary down and remove some of the theories and questions that have already been debunked. Highlighting that he is "very logical" when it comes to exploring events like Sandy Hook, he's open to admitting he's wrong, calling his film endeavor "investigative journalism" that is meant to raise important questions.
"If someone shows me something that proves I'm wrong, maybe I'm wrong," he explained.
You can watch his film below: