WASHINGTON — Sheriff’s deputies in Lake County, Fla., on Monday arrested a notorious tormentor of the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, charging him with the unlawful possession of personal identification.
Wolfgang Halbig, a former contributor to Infowars, the online and radio show hosted by the far-right provocateur Alex Jones, has spread false claims for years that the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting of 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Conn., was an elaborate government hoax aimed at confiscating Americans’ firearms. When challenged or confronted by Sandy Hook families, Mr. Halbig has released their personal information, taunted them or emailed them photographs of what he claimed were their dead children “all grown up.”
Mr. Halbig, of Sorrento, Fla., was arrested after a complaint filed by Leonard Pozner, whose son Noah, 6, died in the shooting. The arrest affidavit said that Mr. Halbig repeatedly emailed Mr. Pozner’s Social Security number, date of birth and other information to a long list of recipients, including “multiple different law enforcement agencies and news stations.”
Mr. Pozner has tried since 2014 to stop Mr. Halbig from targeting Sandy Hook families and other victims of tragedy. In response, Mr. Halbig posted online a 100-page TransUnion background report on Mr. Pozner, which included his address and delicate personal information. Mr. Pozner lives in hiding.
“We are gratified that prolific Sandy Hook hoaxer and serial harasser of the families of victims Wolfgang Halbig has been arrested,” said Mr. Pozner, who founded HONR, a network of volunteers who seek to expunge online content targeting the victims of tragedy. “For five years, he has used my most personal and private details to incentivize and enable other hoaxers and conspiracy theorists to hunt, abuse and terrorize myself and my family.”
He added, “We have a long way to go, but this is a positive step in the right direction.”
Mr. Halbig was released after posting a $5,000 cash bond and will appear in court in late February. The charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison.
Mr. Halbig, 73, a former Florida public school security administrator, has sent hundreds of public records requests to Newtown and Connecticut officials, demanding documents that include photographs of the murder scene, the children’s bodies and receipts for the cleanup of “bodily fluids, brain matter, skull fragments and around 45 to 60 gallons of blood.”
Soon after the massacre, Mr. Halbig appeared multiple times on Infowars, which aired his false claims to millions of people and gave him a platform for raising tens of thousands of dollars to fund his obsession.
Infowars provided Mr. Halbig with a camera crew on his visits to Newtown, at one point filming schoolchildren near St. Rose of Lima, a Catholic church where funerals for several of the murdered children took place.
Court records and a deposition given by Mr. Jones last year in one of four defamation lawsuits filed by Sandy Hook families demonstrated how he and Mr. Halbig used each other to pursue their false theories and promote them across the internet.
Mr. Jones acknowledged in the deposition that Mr. Halbig had been a significant source of information for him about Sandy Hook. Asked by a lawyer for the families if he would agree that Mr. Halbig was “a raving lunatic,” Mr. Jones responded, “He seemed very credible and put together earlier on, but — I can’t remember the exact number — he seemed to get agitated about four years ago, three years ago.”
“Mr. Halbig had a brief and limited association with Infowars,” Mr. Jones’s lawyer, Norm Pattis, said on Monday. “He and his views have long been in the rearview mirror.”
Mr. Halbig is among a handful of so-called Sandy Hook hoaxers who have been prosecuted. In 2017, Lucy Richards, a Florida woman, was jailed for five months for transmitting threats through interstate communications after she repeatedly threatened Mr. Pozner’s life. As a condition of her parole, she is prohibited from visiting Infowars or other conspiracy theorists websites.
Three civil defamation suits have been filed against Mr. Jones in Texas. Another filed in Connecticut against Mr. Jones also named Mr. Halbig as a defendant.