Santa Fe High School Shooting Survivor’s Harrowing Story Exposed as Fraud

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July 02, 2019Jul 02, 2019

A witness to the May 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting whose harrowing story appeared in multiple news outlets has been revealed as a fraud.

The Santa Fe, Texas, school district confirmed Monday it has never heard of David Briscoe, a self-described substitute teacher who said he barricaded a classroom door to protect students, according to The Texas Tribune.

“We are extremely disappointed that an individual that has never been a part of our school community would represent themselves as a survivor of the mass violence tragedy that our community endured,” Santa Fe Independent School District’s Superintendent Leigh Wall told the Tribune.

“This situation illustrates how easily misinformation can be created and circulated, especially when the amount of detailed information available is limited due to the still ongoing investigation,” Wall added.

David Briscoe recounted the screams he said he heard in the hallway of Santa Fe High School during the 2018 shooting.

Only problem was, he wasn’t actually there

— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) July 2, 2019

Briscoe’s story about the tragic shooting that killed 10 and wounded 13 was told by multiple news organizations. He told The Wall Street Journal he heard blood-curdling screams. Time said he was a substitute teacher in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“I barricaded the door with desks and tables and shut the lights,” he said according to CNN’s report of his account, adding he “heard what sounded like a student getting hit by a bullet,” according to The New York Times.

The Texas Tribune began to suspect Briscoe’s story was a hoax after an April interview. The media organization followed up with the school district and discovered Briscoe was not at the school during the shooting, nor had he ever actually worked for the school.

Experienced journalists lament that covering tragic stories like a school shooting make them vulnerable to imposters because reporters are sensitive to upsetting survivors.

“Reporters can face significant reporting hurdles in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy,” said John Bridges, the executive editor for the Austin American-Statesman, another news outlet that quoted Briscoe.

“I don’t know what motivates people to try to take advantage of a tragedy like this. It’s sick and it’s sad,” he said.

Briscoe stopped responding to The Texas Tribune’s requests for comment. News organizations mentioned in this story have removed references to Briscoe’s account of events.

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