Missouri GOP lawmakers spread debunked claim about Kansas City Chiefs rally shooting

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A group of Missouri Republican lawmakers are pushing now-debunked social media posts purporting to identify one of the gunmen in the Kansas City Chiefs rally shooting and unsubstantiated assertions that one or more of the shooters were migrants in the country illegally.

The hard-right Missouri Freedom Caucus’ social media page, as well as at least two of the group’s members, Republican Sens. Rick Brattin and Denny Hoskins, have shared a series of posts that claim to identify a 44-year-old man as a shooter.

The Associated Press on Thursday debunked the claim as false. The same name and description was used to promote similar erroneous claims in a January explosion in Texas and a December shooting in Las Vegas, the AP reported.

Kansas City police have not released the names of the suspects in Wednesday’s shooting that injured 22 people and killed a woman. Police as of Thursday afternoon have said only that two juveniles and one adult were detained.

But the Freedom Caucus, which represents at least six Missouri senators and eight representatives, has used the debunked posts to attempt to link the Kansas City shooting to illegal immigration. The group shared several posts on social media calling for stronger border control efforts.

“These are the 3 people arrested at the parade….at least one of those arrested is allegedly an illegal immigrant. CLOSE OUR BORDERS!” the caucus wrote on its social media page.

Brattin, a Harrisonville Republican who chairs the caucus, shared a post that promoted the conspiracy and called for President Joe Biden to “CLOSE THE BORDER!”

Hoskins, a Warrensburg Republican, in a post mocking a Democratic senator who called for stricter gun control measures, used the conspiracy theory to push for stricter immigration laws. The Republican senator doubled down on the debunked claim in a text to The Star, citing “information I’ve seen.” He also denounced calls for gun reform.

“Illegal immigrants and repeat violent offenders have no regard for our Missouri families and the rule of law,” the text said in part.

Brattin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The effort by the lawmakers to connect the shooting to immigration comes as local officials, Chiefs players and Kansas Citians have called for the state to reexamine its lax approach to gun regulations.

Republicans across the country, including Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, have sought to draw attention to the U.S.-Mexico border ahead of the 2024 presidential election.