According to the New York Times, Massachusetts resident Marcel Fontaine is suing Jones for defamation after he was falsely identified as the Parkland school shooter on Infowars’ website. Fontaine filed the suit in Texas court Monday, nearly two months after a gunman fatally shot 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
On the day the shooting occurred, Infowars published a story by Kit Daniels with a headline that read, "Reported Florida Shooter Dressed as a Communist, Supported ISIS." The story included a photo of Fontaine wearing a T-shirt that parodied communist and Marxist figures. The image was captioned: “Shooter is a commie”—a reckless mistake, as the suspected shooter was later identified as Nikolas Cruz.
Infowars has since removed Fontaine’s photos and has issued a retraction:
On this webpage on February 14, 2018, we showed a photograph of a young man that we had received and stated incorrectly that it was an alleged photo of the suspected shooter at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Infowars promptly removed the contents of this webpage within hours after posting on February 14, 2018. The young man whose picture was shown later contacted us and asked that we take the photo down, but we had already done so several days before. We regret that this error occurred.
But the damage was done.
Immediately after the story was published on Infowars, which reportedly garners millions of visitors every month, Fontaine’s name and photo began circulating around the internet, resulting in a wave of harassment and threats.
The 24-year-old is seeking more than $1 million damages, claiming the website “irreparably tainted” his reputation. The suit lists Jones, Infowars, Free Speech Systems, LLC, and Daniels as defendants.
“We believe that Mr. Fontaine was targeted due to the T-shirt he was wearing, and that Infowars intentionally disregarded fundamental newsroom ethics due to its desire to politicize the tragedy,” Fontaine’s attorney Mark D. Bankston told the Times. “Alex Jones is no longer a gimmick or sideshow. His audience rivals that of major cable networks, yet he refuses to exercise the most basic journalistic integrity. What happened to Mr. Fontaine is the predictable result of the reckless practices Mr. Jones has fostered at Infowars.”