A mom and dad whose son was killed in a 2012 school shooting testified they were harassed for years by hoaxers, including being sent photos of dead children, in a trial that will determine how much conspiracist Alex Jones must pay to the families of Sandy Hook for spreading lies about the shooting.
Parents Ian and Nicole Hockley gave separate testimonies in a Connecticut courtroom Tuesday to talk about the onslaught of abuse and threats they received in the days, weeks and years following the death of their 6-year-old son Dylan.
"I got sent pictures of dead kids because [hoaxers said] as a 'crisis actor' I didn't know what dead kids looked like," Nicole testified.
Dylan was among 20 children and six adults who were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. In the days, weeks and years following, Infowars host Alex Jones spread the vicious lie that the parents were all "crisis actors" who didn't suffer any tragedy. A jury will now determine how much he'll have to pay to several Sandy Hook families after he lost his case to default judgement. In August, Jones was ordered to pay $45 million in punitive damages to another pair of Sandy Hook parents for his lies.
A photo of Ian and Nicole Hockley, and their sons Dylan (left) and Jake, is displayed for the jury panel during the Hockley's testimony in the Alex Jones defamation trial at Superior Court in Waterbury, Connecticut, on Tuesday. (Photo: Brian A. Pounds/Hearst Connecticut Media via Associated Press)
Just days after posting a video of his son's memorial service online, Ian Hockley was harassed and called a "party boy" among hoaxers for smiling during a particularly uplifting moment of the service.
It was a name that would stick to him for years. In 2013, Ian started Dylan's Wings Of Change, a nonprofit that helps children with emotional and social learning inspired by Dylan, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 3. In 2018, Ian began making more appearances at schools to talk about the program. The harassment was renewed.
"Pictures from the memorial were sent to me again: 'Hey it's party boy Hockley, the fake parent of Sandy Hook, great photoshop dude,'" Ian testified.
In an exhibit shown to the court, one hoaxer commented on a Facebook page for Dylan's Wings Of Change: "Be warned, Sandyhook-Traitor, Ian 'Party Boy' Hockley comes here...He's a douche that laughed and smile thru his 'son's funeral' which was scripted..."
It was of course not scripted, and Dylan was real. Parents Ian and Nicole talked lovingly of Dylan, who liked listening to the cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" off the Shrek soundtrack and would "jump up and down and flap his hands" when he got really excited.
Nicole Hockley answers questions from lawyer Chris Mattei during her testimony on Tuesday. (Photo: Brian A. Pounds/Hearst Connecticut Media via Associated Press)
"You couldn't help but laugh, it was really cute," Ian testified.
Nicole described Dylan as a sweet boy who loved cuddles.
"He really loved cuddles. Really deep, deep cuddles," she testified. "He liked to cling on to me like a koala bear. I loved that."
In her own testimony, Nicole detailed the threats she faced, including being sent a photo of other dead children from hoaxers.
"I hid a lot of this from Ian," Nicole said of the threats sent to their home. "It was very targeted comments, there were direct messages, emails, phone calls to my friends looking for me. I received mail at the house which I would tend to get to before Ian would get home from work."
Nicole said she now worries for their 18-year-old son, Jake, and what might happen if a hoaxer tries confronting him.
"I am terrified that someone will hurt my son," she said.
As testimony continues in week 3 of the trial, Alex Jones has been on Infowars in Texas to sell supplements in videos about the trial titled "kangaroo court." Other Infowars stories about the trial included talking about the "tyrant" judge overseeing the trial and the "elite" media covering it.
How often is the harassment that parents Ian and Nicole face? Plaintiffs' attorney Chris Mattei brought up an exhibit in court Tuesday that showed a comment sent to Nicole on Sep. 6, just a week before the trial began.
"How do you sleep at night?" the hoaxer asked.
As Nicole testified, she now sleeps with a bat, knives and a can of Mace by her bed.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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