The conspiracy issue: ‘Crisis actors’ staged Rancho Tehama school shooting!

Is a shadowy network of G-men secretly gaslighting the nation?

It was a question I’d been asked to consider, at least by the internet, that first cold morning I drove into Rancho Tehama. I was in that isolated backcountry some four months after a deranged man named Kevin Janson Neal used two self-assembled AR-15 rifles—“ghost guns”—to go on a shooting rampage that killed five people and sent nine others to the hospital, including three children.

Or did he?

Before I rolled into that broken cattle range, I’d checked TV news reports on YouTube from the day of Neal’s murder spree. I soon noticed a theme with some of the commenters posting under the videos. According to them, there were no slayings in Rancho Tehama on November 14, 2017: They insisted the whole thing was a government-orchestrated spectacle of “crisis actors.”

Pulling into the hamlet, I spotted a little coffee house. Inside I was greeted by Tiffany Rogers, one of the internet-deemed hoaxers, waiting behind the counter. After the chaos that ensued November 14, Rogers gave an interview to KPIX Channel 5 about Neal’s thunderous assault on the elementary school, which is less than a minute from her business. “I heard about 30 more rounds, at that point, I can hear the children at the school screaming,” Rogers told the reporter, “and then someone yelling, ’Get down!’ I could see a gentleman on the airstrip yelling for help and screaming, ’Help me! Help me!’”

But Rogers wasn’t fooling those who consider themselves the keenest and most patriotic among us.

“If it was real and not a staged false flag, then why all the crisis actors?” a woman called Marina Raider demanded in the comment section. “Looks like the government really wants those guns.”

Glancing around the coffee house, I was impressed by Rogers’ apparent commitment to spy craft. Here, a full four months after her TV interview, she was keeping up the Deep State’s ruse by operating a steam wand and cash register every single morning. Yep, she was unflappable. She even regaled me with a story about how the night before, a turkey on her farm pecked the eyes out of a newborn goat, causing the billy’s own mother to eat it. Rogers topped that tale off by handing me a hot, delicious caramel mocha. I guessed if Rogers was merely a thespian pawn in the grand scheme to abolish the Second Amendment, she was playing her part to the bitter end.

As I wandered around Rancho Tehama, I also met people who claimed they knew Jessie Sanders. They insisted Sanders was a real resident of the town. According to numerous witnesses, in the middle of the chaotic shootings, Sanders tried to confront Neal, unarmed, to buy other people time to escape. Sanders gave an interview to KCRA Channel 3, holding his bloody, bandaged arm, and said one of the murdered victims, Danny Elliot, was his best friend. Sanders then broke down describing how Elliot’s 6-year-old son hadn’t been notified yet.

“This guy’s going to get a Grimy [sic] for best crisis actor performance of the year,” a YouTube commenter dubbed SnakeEyes37 declared. And it wasn’t just people who’d used their age and favorite G.I. Joe character to craft their moniker who saw it that way. “You know, it would help if you didn’t use drug addicts for crisis actors!” someone calling himself the Milfinantor railed under the video. In fact, 14 different commenters posting under KCRA’s report identified Sanders as a paid “decoy”—and a bad one at that.

I found myself wishing SnakeEyes37 and the Milfinator were with me, so we could figure this out: How had the Deep State gotten so many people in Rancho Tehama to lie about Sanders living there?

The mystery would have thickened when I dropped by Rancho Tehama’s general store and talked to Joe, the employee behind the counter. Joe had been at the store during the shooting. He’d heard the gunfire echoing against the shallow hills and wooded ridges. Minutes later, Joe told me, Tiffany Phommathep pulled up in her truck. She’d just been shot five times by Neal, and so had her 7- and 10-year-old sons. Joe saw the blood-soaked bullet wounds punched up Phommathep’s back. Phommathep had a pistol in her glove compartment during the attack and managed to return fire at Neal before speeding away. “I think I might have hit him,” Joe remembered Phommathep panting before she tore down the road looking for medical attention. Phommathep soon flagged down Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston, who managed to get her family help.

But according to some YouTube commenters, constable Johnston was not a hero that morning, but rather a Deep State henchman who was part of the long game to take everyone’s guns. When KPIX Channel 5 posted video of Johnston holding a press conference after one of his deputies stopped Neal in a gunfight, an online genius calling himself Bob Ross was quick to respond. “So many fake shootings in such a short amount of time,” Ross snarked. “Why are these sheriffs committing treason to help usher in communism?”

While four other flag-waving trolls left similar posts under that video, the conspiracy theorists did meet some resistance in the thread. “This isn’t fake. I know people who live there. I have an aunt who lives there,” Lauren Frost wrote under Ross’s comment. “Stop with your false flag, disrespectful douchebaggery.”

But Frost, like this reporter, like all reporters—including those at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, who are grieving five of their own after an online troll shot up their newsroom last week—are up against an army of propagandists who shout “fake news” at any real-world tragedy that exposes their agendas. Twenty children executed at Sandy Hook? That flatulent toad Alex Jones calls B.S. Local demonstrations aimed at a sheriff’s helicopter’s role in Stephon Clark’s death? Sheriff Scott Jones says “paid protesters” are behind them—and wins reelection. The same anonymous choir argues that someone like Johnston was a puppet-master of pawns and decoys. These cranks believe someone like Joe—who never even did a TV interview on November 14—could live his life every day at the general store to support a vast conspiracy.

Aldous Huxley wrote that “facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” However, the brave new world we’re racing toward is likely darker than Huxley ever imagined.

Conspiracy rating: Elvis and Tupac are alive and living in Orlando!