The brother of the Connecticut school shooter, Adam Lanza, said through a spokesman Sunday that he never conducted a Facebook interview with the New York Post and that any statements or postings attributed to him were fabricated.
“This is a complete hoax,” said the Lanza family in a statement issued through the spokesman, Errol Cockfield of the public relations firm Edelman.
In the story, Ryan Lanza, who works for the major accounting firm Ernst & Young in Manhattan, purportedly told a New York Post reporter in a Facebook chat, “I am a victim. I loss [sic] my mom and brother.”
The spokesman said that Lanza, 24, shut his Facebook account shortly after the shooting and it has not been reactivated. A fake Facebook page that at first glance appeared to be Lanza’s was subsequently created and used to deceive the New York Post reporter. It is not known who orchestrated the deception.
Cockfield described the New York Post story as the “unfortunate result of a poor editorial process.”
The New York Post acknowledged Sunday that it had been deceived. An “update” added to the top of the original story on the newspaper’s Web site read: “A spokesman for the Lanza family says an imposter is behind Ryan Lanza’s Facebook page and that Ryan did not post the messages in this story.”
A spokeswoman for the Post said the paper did not have an immediate comment.
Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 26 staff and students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 and then killed himself. Before going to the school he killed his 52-year-old mother, Nancy Lanza.
Coverage of the shooting, particularly in the first 24 hours, was plagued by errors. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, a number of news organizations, including The Washington Post, identified Ryan Lanza as the shooter. His brother was apparently carrying a form of identification that led some investigators to misidentify him in leaks to the press.
Various media outlets also incorrectly reported that Nancy Lanza had worked or volunteered at the Sandy Hook school and that Adam Lanza had convinced someone to open the school’s locked doors for him. In fact, he shot out the glass in one of the doors and entered the school wearing tactical gear and carrying three semi-automatic weapons and a large amount of ammunition.
The New York Post had also reported that Ryan Lanza posted a picture of his brother on Facebook with the words:
“ R.I.P. Adam Peter Lanza.
“I will miss you bro. I will always love you as long as I live” — Ryan.
Cockfield said the purported picture of the shooter Adam Lanza that appeared online and in the newspaper was in fact a picture of a younger Ryan.
The fake posting featured a picture of Nancy Lanza; the spokesman said that picture was in fact one of the mother.
Cockfield also said Ryan Lanza did not respond to any Facebook posts about his brother.
Jerry Markon contributed to this report.