Twitter, SpaceX, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk's flirtation with the alt-right might have just leveled up into full-on conspiracy-mongering.
On Saturday, a shooter — since identified as 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia — opened fire at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas. Eight mall-goers were killed, while another seven were wounded; the youngest slain victims of the horrific attack were 11, eight, and three years old. Garcia, who used a legally-purchased AR-15 to commit the heinous crime, had been discharged from the military over mental health concerns back in 2008.
Though he was killed by police during the violent rampage, a grotesque portrait of Garcia's motives behind the killings gradually became clear in the aftermath.
As revealed on Twitter in a series of screenshots taken by Bellingcat investigator Aric Toler, who discovered the shooter's OK.RU page — a Russian social media account that functioned more like a violent personal diary — Garcia was a raging neo-Nazi and white supremacist who consistently praised Hitler and fascist ideology, loved Timcast, gamified mass violence, posted Zodiac Killer-like riddles for law enforcement and, oh yeah, had massive SS and swastika tattoos.
Also revealed by Toler, Garcia wrote at one point that women had no right to protection from rape, posted photos of the tactical vest that he was shot in — which notably featured a patch with the letters "RWDS," an acronym that investigators believe refers to the white supremacist Right Wing Death Squad hate group — and, in a particularly harrowing turn, Garcia had even posted reconnaissance photos of the Allen outlet mall just three weeks before the shooting occurred.
It's incredibly damning evidence, but billionaire Elon Musk, whose personal war against what he sees as the woke left is seemingly just getting started, apparently isn't buying it. He's being vocal about his suspicions, openly engaging with conspiratorial tweets from alt-right activists and influencers questioning Garcia's motivations.
"Trans terrorist attacks a Christian school and writes a manifesto 6+ weeks later: No motive," tweeted the alt-right account End Wokeness. "Hispanic male shoots up a mall and kills several white people 1 day later: White supremacy."
Musk, ever the reply guy, responded to End Wokeness' tweet with a conspiratorial: "odd."
Of course, the End Wokeness tweet is a wildly flat take on the complexities behind race and identity. After all, the shooter had even posted a meme on his OK.RU diary that explained why he, as a Latino man, had taken the neo-Nazi road to white supremacy, writing that he would "take his risks" with the ideology to forsake what he saw as the only alternative for a young Latino, which was to "act black." As it should go without saying, Garcia's logic is as broken as it is deeply, violently racist, and his actions painfully illustrate just how far internalized racism-fueled extremism can go.
And yet Musk, along with his alt-right pals, is seemingly incapable of viewing nuance about race and identity as anything other than a cartoonish "woke mind virus."
Elsewhere, Musk and others expressed ambivalence regarding whether the account in question actually belonged to Garcia, mostly due to the fact that OK.RU is a Russian website.
"How do we know that was actually his social media account?" tweeted Musk, in response to a tweet from online activist Brian Krassenstein that urged netizens to be careful about jumping to conclusions about the shooter's identity and motives. (In that tweet, Krassenstein had used the example of antisemitic Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green's rush to use Garcia's violence as a means of stirring the xenophobia pot ahead of the Title 42 expiration.)
"Seems very odd that he would have a Russian social media account," Musk added, "when he doesn't speak Russian."
But there's a pretty simple answer to that question: this guy was a neo-Nazi, and OK.RU has virtually zero content moderation rules. His posts were graphic, violent, and full of hateful ideology; it would make sense that he would gravitate towards a site where the bar for moderation is in the basement.
Allen, TX shooter:
Posts identification cards, guns, body armor, a speeding ticket with his name, hours of video of him at shooting ranges at his apartment, photos of his tattoos seen on the shooter's body, a map of the mall 3 weeks before he shot it up, and a final message
— Aric Toler (@AricToler) May 9, 2023
Others echoed Musk's skepticism, inexplicably throwing in additional concern regarding the shooter's apparent taste for the media like Timcast and the inflammatory Twitter account Libs of Tiktok.
"The alleged shooter's alleged profile claims that he was inspired by Libs of TikTok," tweeted Ian Miles Cheong, who's seemingly cemented himself as one of the main ringleaders of the newfound "man with Nazi tattoos can't possibly be a Nazi" squad. "Between this and the Tim Pool references, this thing is suspect. Where is his Twitter account? Why was he using a Russian social media site to write was essentially a diary to zero followers?"
"It's a Psyop and it's not even good," added Timcast contributor Josie "The Redheaded Libertarian" Glasbach, to whom Musk responded with another approving: "odd." (And that wasn't the only conspiratorial Glasbach tweet that Musk responded to yesterday.)
Some folks are also trying to raise suspicion regarding the timeline behind Garcia's tattoos, arguing that it's strange that an unstable person might get a massive swastika tattoo before committing a heinous act of mass violence. Of course, others might make the case that if someone is unstable and wants to do a violent thing, getting a swastika tattoo in the run-up makes, uh, a lot of sense?
"Often when you are looking at someone's digital footprint, it's tough to figure out motivations and a confirmation of identity," Toler tweeted earlier today, in direct response to Musk's flawed questioning. "I've looked for hours before to match up lamps and ceiling fans between photos."
"But this," Toler continued, "is easily the most open-and-shut case I've seen in my life."
Musk has continued to defend his skepticism today, writing in yet another response to Glasbach's psyop claims that "this is either the weirdest story ever or a very bad psyop!"
But again, it's not. Sure, there are some racial complexities at play, but the guy consumed a lot of inflammatory content, glorified mass violence, and — can't say it enough — had Nazi tattoos. Garcia's race isn't a loose thread, ready to unravel a deep state-woven tapestry; it's an informing piece of one extremist's warped worldview. And Musk, concerningly, is far more interested in entertaining destructive conspiracies than he is in giving any consideration to the latter.
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