Texas school shooting spurs 'Bernie Gores' hoax

·2 min read

Posts shared in multiple languages across platforms claim to show a photo of an elementary school teacher killed during a recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. This is false; the fictitious name cited in the posts has circulated online since at least 2020, and the man shown in the photo is a YouTuber.

"See this guy died twice, once in Afghanistan in 2021 and then again yesterday at the fake elementary school shooting,,,, please wake up before we lose our freedom," says a Facebook post shared May 25, 2022.

The post includes a photo showing two images of the same man. The first image is accompanied by text that says: "Elementary school teacher Bernie Gores died sheltering his students from gunfire at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas."

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on June 1, 2022

The second image in the post purports to show a CNN tweet about a journalist -- also named Bernie Gores -- who died during the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021.

"Another false flag. Wake up sheeple," says text above the two images.

Similar posts have been shared thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, according to CrowdTangle, a social media insights tool. The claim has also circulated online in French and Spanish.

But the man pictured in the posts was not killed during the May 24, 2022 attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, where a gunman murdered 19 children and teachers Eva Mireles and Irma Linda Garcia in the second-deadliest school shooting in US history. No one named "Bernie Gores" is listed among the victims.

The name, which is meant to sound like a racial slur, is made-up and commonly used on online messaging boards, as AFP Fact Check has previously reported. Social media posts falsely linking the name to major news events -- including the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan and the Russian invasion of Ukraine -- have circulated since at least 2020.

The man pictured in the more recent posts is not a Uvalde shooting victim, either.

A reverse image search indicates he is "Jordie Jordan," a video game commentator on YouTube who has previously been the subject of controversies. Jordan is a recurring target of online harassment, according to his publicly edited Wikitubia page.

Falsely claiming someone is the victim or perpetrator of a mass shooting is a common feature of online misinformation. Another recurring target is Sam Hyde, a comedian who has for years been falsely blamed for shootings and other mass casualty events.

AFP Fact Check has debunked other false claims about the Texas school shooting.

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