Fake Ted Cruz posts spread online after Texas mall attack

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Following a May 2023 attack at a Texas outlet mall, social media users are claiming US Senator Ted Cruz has tweeted the same message after multiple mass shootings. This is false; the Republican lawmaker has only published the post cited online once -- the other examples are fabricated.

"Disrespectful & shameful. @tedcruz has duplicated the same tweet after every mass shooting in TX," says a May 6, 2023 tweet shared thousands of times.

The post includes what appear to be screenshots showing 12 separate tweets in which Cruz says he and his wife Heidi "are fervently lifting up in prayer the children and families" affected by different shootings. Only the location is different in each supposed tweet.

Screenshot from Twitter taken May 9, 2023

Similar posts claiming Cruz, who represents the US state of Texas in Congress, has a "template" for responding to such attacks spread across Twitter after the May 6, 2023 rampage at a shopping complex in Allen, Texas. Police say 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, who embraced Nazi ideology, killed eight people at the Allen Premium Outlets.

Cruz did tweet about the tragedy -- but not using the language shared online, which has spread after several mass shootings this year.

"This false graphic has been debunked numerous times," said Steve Guest, Cruz's special advisor for communications, in a May 9 email pointing to previous fact checks from CNN, USA Today and PolitiFact.

Cruz's tweets

An advanced Twitter search (archived here) shows Cruz has tweeted the post in question only once, in response to a May 2022 shooting in which 21 people were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

"Heidi & I are fervently lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde," the lawmaker said in the May 24, 2022 post (archived here). "We are in close contact with local officials, but the precise details are still unfolding. Thank you to heroic law enforcement & first responders for acting so swiftly."

Cruz has often offered prayers for the victims of mass shootings, but the senator has not tweeted the same message after attacks in places such as Buffalo, New York and Parkland, Florida. The alleged posts also do not appear on PolitiTweet, a website that tracked public figures' deleted tweets until Twitter cut its access this year.

After the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, for example, Cruz wrote (archived here): "Thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of all those impacted by today's tragic shooting in Newtown, CT."

After the 2018 attack at a synagogue in the US state of Pennsylvania, Cruz said (archived here): "A horrific shooting took place this morning at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh as Jews were gathered during Shabbat services. Heidi and I are praying for the victims and their families, the entire Jewish community in Pittsburgh, and our brave members of law enforcement."

And after the recent massacre in Allen, Cruz tweeted (archived here): "Heidi and I are praying for the families of the victims of the horrific mall shooting in Allen, Texas. We pray also for the broader Collin County community that’s in shock from this tragedy."

In a follow-up post, he said his team was "in contact with local officials."

AFP has debunked other misinformation about US mass shootings here, here and here.