After initial reports that police had named 24-year-old Ryan Lanza the suspect in this morning's Connecticut elementary school shooting that left nearly 30 dead, including at least 18 children, dozens of media accounts (including Gawker) shared the above photo — from the Facebook profile of a 24-year-old man named Ryan Lanza, who was born in Connecticut and lives in New Jersey — many of them describing it a picture of the shooter.
But according to screen shots of his profile taken by former classmates who say they're Lanza's Facebook friends, this Ryan Lanza is alive, well, emphatically not the shooter, and freaking out about the fact that his face is on cable news. (Update: Multiple outlets are now reporting that Adam Lanza, Ryan's brother, was the shooter.)
Andrew Fletcher, who seems to have gone to Quinnippiac with Lanza, tweeted the first screenshot:
He later tweeted that he'd unfriended Lanza " because I was getting a ton of friend requests." Cartoonist Matt Bors, also apparently a Facebook friend of Lanza's, shared another screen shot in which Lanza curses at CNN (CNN emailed after this post went up to make it clear that they never ran his photo; Fox News apparently did).
I'm FB friends with the profile being sent around. This is a real screen grab. twitter.com/MattBors/statu…— Matt Bors (@MattBors) December 14, 2012
Police haven't officially announced the name of their suspect, but according to NBC three different law enforcement sources confirmed "Ryan Lanza" as the suspect. Which leaves us with a few, equally weird options: that police (or the media) have the wrong guy as a suspect; that there are two Ryan Lanzas, of the same age, splitting time between Connecticut and New Jersey; or that this is the right Ryan Lanza, and someone is perpetrating an elaborate, and very morbid, hoax. Until we figure out which one is right, let's stop sharing the guy's profile and ID'ing it as the killer.
Update: It seems as though the first option was the closest: multiple outlets are now reporting Ryan's brother Adam Lanza, 20, was the shooter, and that Ryan is in custody in Hoboken speaking with police.
This Ryan Lanza, by the way, isn't the only victim of social media speculation:
so aperently im getting spammed bc someone with the same name as me killed some ppl... wtf?— Ryan Lanza (@Ryan__Lanza) December 14, 2012
(Note: we also originally shared the photo, under the headline, "Is This Ryan Lanza, the Connecticut School Shooter?"; we didn't positively identify the profile as the shooter but did link to sources that did, and took it down to rewrite as soon as we saw evidence that it wasn't.)