Just after 2 p.m. Friday, a 24-year-old New Jersey man named Ryan Lanza was identified as the perpetrator of a horrific massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
It turns out that the shooter, identified by authorities later Friday, was Adam Lanza--not his brother, Ryan--a 20-year-old.
Lanza allegedly walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning, killed a classroom full of kindergartners before killing their teacher--his mother--and then himself.
Almost immediately, a Facebook profile photo of Ryan began circulating online, on social networks and television. The gleeful subtex: we got the guy.
But it was, as became clear soon after, the wrong Lanza. (Authorities later revealed that someone had accidentally transposed the name of the shooter, Adam, with his brother, Ryan, possibly because Adam was carrying his brother's identification.)
Slate, after initially linking to Ryan Lanza's page, tweeted a correction that included a screenshot of him updating his Facebook page.
"Everyone shut the f*** up it wasn't me," Lanza posted. "I'm on the bus home now it wasn't me... IT WASN'T ME I WAS AT WORK IT WASN'T ME."
Looks like that Facebook page of the Ryan Lanza we linked to was incorrect one. Retracting previous Tweet: twitter.com/Fletch788/stat…— Slate (@Slate) December 14, 2012
Media sites removed the photos quickly, but not before thousands of people had shared the image and widely perpetuated the falsehood.
Another Ryan Lanza, @Ryan__Lanza on Twitter, has also been the subject of the false attention, gaining thousands of followers in the hours after the name began to circulate.
so aperently im getting spammed bc someone with the same name as me killed some ppl... wtf?— Ryan Lanza (@Ryan__Lanza) December 14, 2012
haha i didnt kill anyone, stop spamming my twitter please. and all my other tweets were just jokes because i only had around 20 followers— Ryan Lanza (@Ryan__Lanza) December 14, 2012