Posts misidentify photos of trans women as Uvalde school shooter
CLAIM: Photos shared on Reddit of a woman — wearing a Coca-Cola sweatshirt and black skirt in one picture, a NASA shirt in another — show Salvador Ramos, who officials say fatally shot 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. Another photo of a woman holding a green bottle to her mouth also shows Ramos.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. None of those images show Ramos. The two images shared on Reddit were posted by a woman named Sam, who confirmed her identity to The Associated Press and has posted new images since Ramos was killed by authorities on Tuesday. The image with a green bottle is of a woman named Sabrina.
THE FACTS: On Tuesday, Ramos stormed an elementary school and committed the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in nearly a decade. Immediately, social media users began speculating about Ramos’ identity, and some shared photos of transgender women that had been previously posted online, falsely claiming they were of Ramos.
Some social media users shared a photo of a woman wearing a Coca-Cola sweatshirt and a black skirt, and a similar image in which she is holding a transgender pride flag. Other widespread posts showed a photo from the same account of the woman wearing a black NASA shirt with a red skirt.
“OMG! I found the shooter’s reddit account. Was a transgender,” one tweet of the two photos claimed. The post was later deleted for violating Twitter rules. The images were also shared in Facebook posts claiming to show Ramos.
But the photos are not of Ramos.
The photo with the woman in the Coca-Cola shirt was originally posted to a Reddit account in February, while the photo with the NASA shirt was posted in April. The Reddit user is actually named Sam, and she confirmed her identity to the AP. The AP is not using Sam’s last name to protect her privacy.
Sam posted again on her Reddit account Wednesday with a photo of herself, holding a paper showing the date in the photo as evidence that she is not Ramos, who was fatally shot by authorities responding to the shooting. Sam also posted a photo earlier with the title, “it’s not me, I don’t even live in texas”
“They are my pics. people are using to make trans people look like murderers and blaming me for the shooting,” Sam said in a response to one comment on Reddit.
In other social media posts, users misidentified photos of another woman holding a green bottle to her mouth, looking into the camera, headphones hanging from one ear.
“BREAKING NEWS: THE IDENTITY OF THE SHOOTER HAS BEEN REVEALED,” one tweet of the photo claimed, saying the shooter was a “FEMBOY” with a channel on YouTube. The tweet was later deleted.
But the photo also did not show Ramos. It actually depicts a 22-year-old trans woman named Sabrina who lives in New York City, she confirmed to the AP in an interview.
Sabrina, who requested her last name not be published due to privacy concerns, provided a link to a tweet from days earlier in which she had shared a version of the same image. She also said she was not affiliated with the purported YouTube account.
Sabrina responded to a number of tweets peddling the misidentification, asking for them to be deleted.
“This whole ordeal is just horrifying,” she told the AP.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.