(NewsNation) — A former Newtown, Connecticut police officer who responded to the Sandy Hook shooting said Thursday that Alex Jones is the “worst type of human being there is” and hailed the Texas jury’s decision to award $4 million to parents of a child killed that day.
Plainville, Connecticut Police Chief Christopher Vanghele, who in 2012 was a captain on the Newtown police force, said he has received hundreds of emails and phone calls over the years from Alex Jones followers who believe the shooting was a hoax. An officer for over 30 years, Vanghele has witnessed countless school shootings from Columbine to Parkland.
“Never had I seen any of those shootings have such an outpouring of people that thought there was a conspiracy theory,” Vanghele said Thursday on “NewsNation Prime.” “A lot of these people needed a mouthpiece and that’s what Alex Jones gave to them.”
Jones, who claimed the shooting was a hoax as a way to garner support for tougher gun laws, was sued for defamation by parents of one of the children killed in the attack. He testified for two days this week in the trial, and Thursday, the jury awarded $4 million to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators who were killed.
Jones’ words cut deep in Newtown, Vanghele said, and created unnecessary harm to the city and law enforcement.
“How many of these people just listening to him were the ones that decided to call in the bomb threats that we had, and the numerous copycats that we had that called and said they wanted to shoot up a school?” Vanghele asked. “It did a lot of damage for a lot of years.”
During his testimony, Jones conceded the shooting was “100% real” and apologized for his rhetoric. It was an apology that doesn’t mean much to Vanghele, who called Jones a snake oil salesman.
“He’s a smart individual, he’s talented, he can speak, and he had an audience. He knew right away that he was getting financial gain out of this,” Vanghele said. “He continued to do this for years and years and years just to put a couple dollars in his pocket, which is shameful. He’s the worst type of human being there is.”
For Vanghele’s personal healing journey, Thursday’s verdict closed one chapter in the book. There are other lawsuits pending against Jones, and in the Texas case, jurors will also decide how much to award in punitive damages. The parents had sought at least $150 million in compensation for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“I wish some of these conspiracy theorists could have been with me that day, because then they would know the reality of what exactly happened that day,” Vanghele said. I hope for (the parents) it closes a chapter, lets them heal and gives them a sense of justice.”