James Tracy, a professor who wrote that the mass killing of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School was an elaborate, staged hoax designed to pass gun-control legislation, has been fired from his job at Florida Atlantic University.
University officials began the termination process last month, after parents Lenny and Veronique Pozner wrote an opinion piece in the Sun-Sentinel: ‘‘It’s been three years since we last embraced our precious little boy, Noah. At six-years-old, he was the youngest child murdered at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
‘‘. . . To our horror, we have found that there are some in this society who lack empathy for the suffering of others. Among them are the conspiracy theorists that deny our tragedy was real. They seek us out and accuse us of being government agents who are faking our grief and lying about our loss.’’
They accused Tracy of badgering them for proof that the murders really happened.
‘‘Tracy even sent us a certified letter demanding proof that Noah once lived, that we were his parents, and that we were the rightful owner of his photographic image,’’ they wrote. ‘‘We found this so outrageous and unsettling that we filed a police report for harassment. Once Tracy realized we would not respond, he subjected us to ridicule and contempt on his blog, boasting to his readers that the ‘unfulfilled request’ was ‘noteworthy’ because we had used copyright claims to ‘thwart continued research of the Sandy Hook massacre event.’’’
The letter, which called on the university to fire Tracy, sparked an outpouring of horror and outrage from people sympathetic to the families of victims.
On Tuesday evening, university officials issued a written statement:
‘‘Florida Atlantic University today issued James Tracy with a Notice of Termination. This follows the Notice of Proposed Discipline issued to James Tracy Dec. 16.
‘‘The effective date of the termination is Jan. 8, 2016.
‘‘James Tracy was scheduled to teach three classes during the upcoming Spring semester. Alternative instructors will be assigned to teach those classes.’’
Tracy did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Twenty-seven people were shot and killed by a gunman in who then shot and killed himself in Newtown, Connecticut, a mass killing that shocked many Americans because most of those who died were young children.
Tracy repeatedly questioned whether the shooting - and other recent mass shootings reported by the media - actually happened.
A post apparently written by him on the ‘‘Hoax at Sandy Hook’’ Facebook page held that no one was killed at the school, that the tragedy was faked, that ‘‘local co-conspirators’’ benefited financially by pretending to be grieving parents, and that the Pozners were trying to intimidate his employer into terminating him for researching and speaking the truth.
Tracy ‘‘teaches courses examining the relationship between commercial and alternative news media and socio-political issues and events,’’ according to Florida Atlantic’s website, with expertise in ‘‘media history and analysis, political economy of communication.’’
In the letter from university officials, they noted that they had asked Tracy to report ‘‘outside activity’’ so that the university ‘‘can address potential, actual, or perceived conflicts of commitment or interest,’’ but that he had refused to do so.