AUSTIN, Texas — Facing a possible $150 million verdict and two more damages lawsuits for defaming the families of people killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones shut down its Infowars empire on Friday. in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Last year, Mr. Jones lost four defamation lawsuits filed by the families of 10 people killed in the December 14, 2012 shooting at Newtown, Conn. Shortly after the shooting, he began spreading the false theory that the shooting was staged by the government as a pretext to confiscate Americans’ firearms, and that the families were complicit in the plot. The families have suffered for years under the torment of people who believe these false claims.
Judges in Texas and Connecticut ruled that Mr. Jones was liable by default for disobeying court orders. The losses formed the basis for the three jury trials for damages. The first trial started last week in Austin. In it, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis, 6, died in the massacre, have demanded $150 million in damages, plus punitive damages. Mr. Jones and a sidekick, Owen Shroyer, suggested to Infowars that Mr. Heslin’s memory of detaining his son shortly after his murder was a lie.