OGDEN -- YouTube videos claiming the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., were staged appear to be based on a fear of government, authority and people's fragmentation of reality, according to a Weber State University professor.
The videos were recently shared with the Standard-Examiner by Larry Pierce, a retired litigation lawyer living in Hornby Island, British Columbia.
One of the videos in the series has had more than 134,000 views.
Jill Cottle Garrett, the aunt of Sandy Hook victim 6-year-old Emilie Parker, an Ogden native, said Wednesday she is aware of the conspiracy theories surrounding the shootings and offered an opinion as to why they occur.
"The people I know that buy into conspiracy theories, in general, are people who fear the government," she said.
"They are using the same sound bites the mass media is using to build their own story instead of asking reasonable questions and looking into facts."
Pierce said the purpose behind the staged killings theory, by whatever group is behind it, is to provide the American public "a false flag attack, someone who wants to bring in gun control. You can't get the masses whipped up without getting them scared," he said.
WSU Assistant Sociology Professor Pepper Glass said he believes the claims made on the video could be in response to fear -- of gun control, of President Barack Obama, government and of authority.
"What you get is a fragmentation of reality," Glass said.
Similar conspiracy theories surrounded the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, amid claims that they were staged as part of an effort by then- President George W. Bush to push the country into war.
And the fear of those behind the Sandy Hook videos of having their guns taken away from them, Glass said, is greater than the fear they have of the people they may offend in making such claims, such as the family of the victims.
Pierce, in a telephone interview, said he is not a conspiracy theorist, but maintained that the claims made in the video are credible. He said he forwarded the videos to the Standard-Examiner because the newspaper published stories about Emilie Parker.
The Parker family was originally from Ogden and had recently moved to Newtown, Conn., as a result of a job relocation.
Pierce said the video shows Obama meeting with the Parker family days following the shooting, and claimed it shows Emilie Parker in a favorite red dress.
Pierce said he also suspects that some of the surviving victims interviewed by media were actors.
"I don't know what to think about it," Pierce said.
He said for that reason he forwarded the videos to four or five media outlets across the world, the Standard-Examiner included.
"It is making the rounds," Pierce said of the videos. "It is just so puzzling and shocking. There has got to be an explanation."
A Facebook page has also been established that claims the Sandy Hook shooting was staged and that Emilie Parker is in the photograph with Obama.
Brooke Ann Prothero, a close friend of Robbie and Alissa Parker, who are Emilie's parents, debunked the theory in a post on the Facebook page.
"Did anyone notice the difference in age in her (Emilie's) face from the picture of her in the red dress, age 4, to the picture of her in the pink shirt, age 6?" the post says. "Yeah, her face has matured. It's her little sister that is wearing that dress with Obama. A treasured Christmas dress hand-me-down from her big sister Emilie. Madeline is there with Obama only because she has lost her best friend in the whole world. People think they are so brilliant because they notice the same dress. And then they open their mouth and show everyone just what idiots they really are."
Pierce, who formerly lived in Dallas, Texas, and has family there, said it is his hope that members of the media will knock on some doors.
"I think (the public) will trust the media if they go out and ask the hard questions," he said.
People are "meaning-making animals," Glass said, constantly wanting to make sense of the world, and with that there is a shared reality of what takes place.
But with the Internet there is a reshaping of that reality, he said, versus believing media reports.