Kelly, the district secretary for GOP Rep. Shawn Harrison prompted outrage after telling a Tampa Bay Times reporter that two Parkland, Fla., students who had appeared in a TV interview were in fact “actors” who “travel to various crisis when they happen.”
“Both kids in the picture are not students,” Kelly wrote to the reporter in an email from his official account, linking to a widely-debunked conspiracy theory perpetuated by right-wing websites.
Pushing an ultra right agenda, Kelly falsely claimed shooting survivor, David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is an “actor”
The students in question, Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, survived a gruesome shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last Wednesday that left 17 people dead. The 19-year-old gunman, Nikolas Cruz, who was expelled from the school last year, sneaked back on campus and mowed down his former classmates and teachers with an AR-15 assault rifle
As Kelly’s shocking email made the rounds on social media, Harrison issued a statement rebuking his staffer’s comments as “insensitive and inappropriate.” Less than an hour later, Kelly announced that he had been fired.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor, Sheryl Acquarola, 16, weeps after Florida lawmakers voted not to hear the bill banning assault rifles and large capacity magazine on Feb 20
As the enormity of his insensitive onslaught on the students sank in, Kelly tried to retrace his footsteps: “I made a mistake whereas I tried to inform a reporter of information relating to his story regarding a school shooting,” Kelly tweeted.
“This was not my responsibility. I meant no disrespect to the students or parents of Parkland.”
However, he was silent as on whether he really believes that Hogg and Gonzalez are actors. In a follow-up tweet, the disgraced district secretary quoted a Bible verse: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
A flag was draped over 17-year-old, Peter Wang’s coffin as he was laid to rest. Wang was buried in his JROTC uniform and with an Army Medal of Heroism. He was also admitted posthumously to West Point
Emma Gonzalez is one of the students advocating tightened gun controls that Kelly falsely claimed was an “actor.”
Harrison condemned his ex-aide in a second statement late Tuesday.
“I am appalled at and strongly denounce his comments about the Parkland students,” Harrison said. “I am again sorry for any pain this has caused the grieving families of this tragedy.”
Florida GOP Rep Shawn Harrison fired Kelly after calling his former aide’s comments “insensitive and inappropriate”
Kelly’s shocking comments were based in part on an inflammatory conspiracy theory pushed by the pro-Trump Gateway Pundit site that claims Hogg has been “coached on anti-Trump lines” by his ex-FBI agent father.
Jacelyn Corin, a student at Stoneman Douglas, took to Twitter Tuesday night to inform Kelly that she and her friends are “KIDS — not actors.”
“We are KIDS that have grown up in Parkland all of our lives,” Corin tweeted. “We are KIDS who feared for our lives while someone shot up our school. We are KIDS working to prevent this from happening again. WE ARE KIDS.”