Do you remember the May 18, 2018 mass school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas? Press coverage was extensive, as it should have been. Now a story has been published that one of the alleged survivors of the shooting was a hoaxer.
Major news outlets were all conned by David Briscoe, who claimed to be a substitute teacher working at the high school that day. The story emerging is that Briscoe falsely promoted himself as a witness to the carnage of the shooting.
The man calling himself David Briscoe appeared in Time as a substitute teacher seemingly in the wrong place at the wrong time; CNN described his heroism as he ordered his students to “get down” and kept them protected until police came; The Wall Street Journal relayed the blood-curdling screams he heard from students in the hallway.” witnessing the carnage in Santa Fe High School as the students and teachers came under attack.
As the one year anniversary of the school shooting approached, updated stories from survivors and the aftermath in their daily lives emerged. Briscoe contacted a Texas Tribune reporter to tell his tale again. It matched up with his previous account of that day but, upon completion of some fact-checking by the Tribune, his interview did not run. Too many discrepancies were found.
In a roughly 31-minute interview with the Tribune, David Briscoe told his tale: When the first shots rang out — “it was very, very loud” — he said he directed his classroom of nearly a dozen students in the remedial English course he was teaching to muffle their screams with their hands.
He barricaded the doors. Turned off the lights.
He said he could never return to the Houston-area school where 10 died and another 13 were injured last spring. “Just knowing that there’s blood on the walls where you walk at … I don’t think I could go back,” he said, so after he and his students were rescued by law enforcement, he said he quit teaching altogether and moved to Florida, three months after he took the job at Santa Fe High.
The problem with his story is that he wasn’t a teacher at the school and he was never a resident of Texas. There is no record of his employment with the Santa Fe Independent School District. The district is confident that no one by that name was on campus that day. A lieutenant for the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, James Roy, said that Briscoe’s accounting of his location is off, too. (Texas Tribune) The shootings occurred in the art department section, not the wing where English classes are taught.
“If he was anywhere other than that hallway [where the shooting took place], I don’t think he could’ve heard anything but the fire alarm,” he said, referring to the alarm a teacher pulled as a warning to get people out of the school.
According to public records, Briscoe’s home address was a Florida address at the time of the shootings. There is no record of his alleged residence in Texas. After being contacted by the Texas Tribune with their findings, all four media outlets that quoted Briscoe in their stories removed any reference to him.
The urgency of reporting after such horrific events and the lack of time taken to verify facts in the reporting is cited as a reason that a hoax like this one happens. Social media plays a big part in the problem, too. People pretend to be someone else. In this case, Briscoe contacted the Texas Tribune through social media when he wanted additional publicity as the first anniversary approached. When a reporter tried to contact him after the fact-checking was completed to get his explanation, he denied that he took part in the interview and that his identity was stolen by a former employee of the social media company he owns. It was the old “I’ve been hacked” routine. He didn’t give the name of the social media company he allegedly owns now.
There’s one more tidbit to this story. He’s still riding his phony story for public attention.
He said he recently gave a speech at Colonial High School in Orlando, where the principal honored him and he talked to students and faculty about what he thought lawmakers could do to prevent another tragedy.
A spokeswoman for Colonial High School said no one named David Briscoe came to the school to speak.
What a shame that the survivors have to be re-victimized by fraudulent stories from phony heroes. This could have all been avoided if the first wave of stories published had done some basic fact-checking instead of racing to break the story.