Sandy Hook Families Are Fighting Over What Do With Infowars

Alex Jones Speaks To The Media Outside The Sandy Hook Trial In Waterbury, Connecticut

Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images

In 2021 and 2022, two sets of families of the 20 children murdered during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting won separate defamation suits against Alex Jones. The founder of Infowars had spent the better part of a decade lying about these families, saying they were actors, that the shooting was faked, that there was a massive government cover-up. The lies spurred his followers to harass and threaten the surviving Sandy Hook family members as they grieved for their 6- and 7-year-old children. (It was only when Jones was under oath that he admitted he knew the shootings weren’t staged.) The two cases ultimately ended up awarding about $1.5 billion in damages to the families, more money than either Jones or any of his companies has ever had on hand. (He had been spending lavishly on himself but has not paid out anything to the families.) Now, the surviving families are split on what is the best way to hold Jones accountable for his lies: shut down Infowars, or keep it alive and garnish the money he makes from broadcasting.

At issue is what to do with the site’s parent company, Free Speech Systems, and who should end up owning it after Jones filed for bankruptcy protection. One group — called the Connecticut families, for where they filed their suit — wants the company to go into bankruptcy and then be sold off by a court-appointed trustee. It’s a solution that would end Infowars but wouldn’t necessarily stop Jones from taking his rants elsewhere. A group of families who filed suit in Texas wants to go another route: take control of his company’s assets and sell them off. In this scenario, Infowars and Jones could still broadcast, but the deal could increase how much the families get paid, at least in the short term. It is, in an ironic twist, a position that was supported by Jones himself. The reality is that both scenarios come up against the same problem — that no matter what happens in court, Jones is unlikely to shut up.

The conflict spilled out into the open earlier this month. On June 14, the judge in the Houston federal bankruptcy court case was asked to consider which of the two families’ plans it should consider regarding Infowars’ parent company, FSS. “The standard isn’t what is the worst possible thing to do to Alex Jones to make him suffer,” said Avi Moshenberg, an attorney for the Texas families, according to a transcript of the proceeding. “The standard is, what is in the best interest of the creditors? All the evidence points to one answer; it’s to let FSS continue as an ongoing concern so that the creditors can collect.”

In essence, the judge agreed. Infowars has since been removed from bankruptcy, and its assets — including cash, ownership of the website, and Jones’s personal holdings — were transferred to the Texas families. The Connecticut families have sought to stop the order and place the company back in bankruptcy, which, they argue, would make for a more equitable distribution of his assets. In a filing, the Connecticut families called the Texas families’ move a “value-destructive money-grab,” and warned that “these actions, if allowed to continue, would have substantial — if not disastrous — impacts.”

“We were disappointed to see the negative rhetoric used by the Trustee and by other victims of Alex Jones and Infowars,” says Jarrod Martin, an attorney representing the Texas families. “While we understand their frustration, we have been consistent with our position that we intended to make Jones and Infowars pay for their wrongdoings.” The decision, however, has not persuaded the Connecticut families, who will likely be awarded less money through the Texas state courts. “Every decision we have made has been with one thing in mind, and that is to create maximum accountability for Alex Jones,” says Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the Connecticut families.

Attorneys for both sides have said that their ultimate goals are complicated by Jones’s First Amendment rights. Jones has resisted any settlement agreements that would limit his ability to talk about Sandy Hook, according to one person familiar with the discussions. And even if Infowars is shut down, there would be nothing, in theory, stopping him from being hired by another company to continue some version of his show — then make it harder for the families to collect on his earnings.

“The reality is, we’re going to continue in a post-dismissal world, to try to collect against Jones in a way that we can hopefully buy off his silence; to use our leverage to collect on him, to get him to stop talking about Sandy Hook,” Moshenberg said, according to the June 14 transcript. “I want to get Jones and FSS to pay a fair sum, and to get him to agree to never talk about Sandy Hook again, the reason why we’re here. And the reality is Chapter 7 doesn’t award us that relief.”

Despite the court order, Jones still appears to be broadcasting through Infowars. In a post on X, he even acknowledged how difficult it would be for the Sandy Hook families to ever keep him from talking. “Infowars is only this building, and equipment, and our great crew. They can go anywhere. I can work anywhere. They’re not shutting anything down. It’s all just a big, giant tug-of-war trying to close down this facility, which they see as some victory to mount our head on the wall,” he said in a video. “InfoWars is hard to kill. And I’m hard to shut down.”

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