Hoaxes & Rumors

Was the Same Woman at the Aurora, Sandy Hook, and Boston Tragedies?

Was the Same Woman at the Aurora, Sandy Hook, and Boston Tragedies?

An image circulating online claims to show the same woman at three different tragedies: The Aurora, Colorado theater shooting, the Sandy Hook shooting, and the Boston Bombing.

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The claim is false.

The identities of all three women are known, and they are not the same person. Let’s take a look at the image being circulated, the claim associated with it, and the identities of the women in the photos.

Aurora Shooting

The woman in the photograph is Amanda Medek. Some press photos taken of her sitting on a flight of steps included the caption, “Amanda Medek, who is looking for her sister Micayla, sits outside Gateway High School, Friday July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colo.”

Here is the well-known photo of Amada Medek, along with a clearer portrait.

Amada Medek at Gateway High School after the Aurora shooting, and in an undated candid.

Sandy Hook Shooting

The woman shown in the Sandy Hook photo above is Carlee Soto, who had just learned that her sister Vicky Soto was dead. A caption for the iconic photo read: Carlee Soto learns that her sister Vicky Soto is among those killed in the school shooting.

Carlee Soto

Carlee Soto at Sandy Hook and during an interview.

Boston Bombing

The official caption for the image being circulated stated: Emma MacDonald and two friends were photographed at a vigil for the Boston victims.

We could not locate a candid of Emma MacDonald, but below is are two images of her snapped at the Boston vigil:

Emma MacDonald

Update: Paris 2015

Hours after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, a variation of the graphic above circulated on social media with the addition of another woman, who is now said to have attended all four tragedies. One caption read, “Damn, one unlucky girl.. Seems she was in Paris last night.. Sandy Hook during the school shooting and Boston during the marathon bombings… Coincidence or professional paid government actor?”

paris crying

As with the original version of the graphic, someone has merely taken the image of a crying young woman with brown-hair and labeled it as “proof” that the same woman was at all four tragedies. The woman in the Paris photo has not been identified. Press captions of the photo merely describe it in the following manner: “Rescuers evacuate people following an attack in the 10th arrondissement of the French capital Paris.”

Because the three women in the original were identified as different individuals, it would be impossible for the woman in the Paris photo to be all three of them.

Here is a more complete discussion regarding claims that “no video exists” of the attacks.

Bottom Line

The same woman was not photographed at four different tragedies. The images show different women who were each photographed crying at different events. The identities of the first three women are known, while the fourth woman has yet to be identified. A cursory resemblance and similarities in the expressions of the four women were used to make this easily disputed claim.


Updated November 14, 2015
Originally published June 2013

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