Sandy Hook dad doubts things will change
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As events unfolded Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Len Pozner was "transported right back" to Dec. 14, 2012, when his 6-year-old son, Noah, and 25 others were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.Posted — Updated
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As events unfolded Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Len Pozner was "transported right back" to Dec. 14, 2012, when his 6-year-old son, Noah, and 25 others were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Law enforcement authorities in Broward County said that Nikolas Cruz, 19, confessed to using an assault rifle to kill 17 people, the largest death toll in a mass shooting at a U.S. school since Sandy Hook.
Pozner watched last week's news in horror but not surprise. According to The New York Times, there have been 239 school shootings nationwide since Sandy Hook, with 438 people shot, 138 of whom died.
"I'm probably more sensitive to it than the average American, but at the same time, like all Americans, I'm used to it to some extent," said Pozner, who moved to Palm Beach County with his family after Noah was killed.
Pozner won't be surprised either when the next mass shooting takes place, whether it happens at a school or airport or concert. He's skeptical that the protests and activism that have sprung up since Wednesday's massacre will move the needle in Washington in regard to gun regulation.
"Did Vegas change the national discussion?" said Pozner, referring to the 58 people killed and 851 injured Oct. 1 by a lone gunman during a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. "I am hopeful after each tragedy, but I don't think there will be huge lasting change on the federal level after the Parkland shooting."
Another thing that is unlikely to change is the re-victimization of survivors by trollers, "hoaxers" and conspiracy theorists who already proclaim that the murders at Stoneman Douglas High were the work of U.S. government agents looking to impose gun control.
Alex Jones, the far-right-wing blogger and radio host who accused the government of being behind the Oklahoma City bombing and Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said last week that Cruz has "got mind control written all over him" and called the Parkland shootings "the perfect false flag."
"It's hard to predict (what conspiracy theorists) will do, but what is not hard to predict is that they will deny the survivors' pain," Pozner said.
Pozner knows that story well.
He became a target after forming the Honr Network in 2014, which went after online platforms hosting "hoaxer" content.
Lucy Richards, 57, was sentenced in June to five months in prison after she sent Pozner a series of threatening emails and voicemails. Richards said in court documents that she made the threats after Pozner "made me angry because Sandy Hook never happened."
Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy was fired in connection with comments he made on a blog referring to Sandy Hook as a hoax. Tracy lost a lawsuit in December asking for his job back.
"I'm sure that trolling is already going on," Pozner said of the Parkland tragedy. "They are evil."
Pozner moved to Boca Raton with his former wife and children after Noah was killed. But the family moved out of Palm Beach County last year after continued harassment and what Pozner said was an ineffectual response by Boca Raton police.
Whenever he hears of a mass shooting, Pozner said he "re-lives" his son's murder.
While watching frantic parents rushing to Douglas High on Wednesday, Pozner said he agonized recalling the hours he and his wife waited to hear word about Noah. Noah suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was the youngest person to die at Sandy Hook.
"I felt the pain for those parents who were in limbo, still waiting to be reunited with their family members," Pozner said. "You see that unfolding and you get brought back to that place because that's what we went through, sitting and not knowing."
Eventually, Pozner said he couldn't watch news accounts from Parkland any longer.
"I have to walk away from it or else it re-triggers me," Pozner said.
Jorge Milian writes for The Palm Beach Post. Email: jmilian(at)pbpost.com.
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