Braden Matejka barely escaped the Route 91 Harvest festival with his life after Stephen Paddock fired a barrage of bullets from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
As the couple was fleeing, Braden was knocked down by a bullet in the back of his head, landing on his face. He was covered in blood, but remained responsive, and he and his girlfriend, who was not hit, quickly made it inside the car of another concertgoer, who drove them to a hospital.
Braden survived the bullet to his head, but now online conspiracy theorists are threatening his life.
Like many mass shootings, the Las Vegas massacre that left 58 dead and hundreds wounded has prompted claims that the tragedy was a hoax, and some of those conspiracy theorists have spammed social media with threats and abuse against the victims and their families, reported The Guardian.
“You are a lying piece of shit, and I hope someone truly shoots you in the head,” a commenter wrote to Matejka on Facebook.
“Your soul is disgusting and dark! You will pay for the consequences!” said another.
Braden’s brother Taylor Matejka couldn’t wrap his head around all the attacks online.
“There are all these families dealing with likely the most horrific thing they’ll ever experience, and they are also met with hate and anger and are being attacked online about being part of some conspiracy,” his brother, Taylor Matejka, told the Guardian.
Matejka and his girlfriend, Amanda Homulos, gave an emotional interview shortly after the shooting, which they escaped by jumping into a stranger’s car.
“If (the bullet) was an inch over,” Matejka said, “it would’ve been in my brain, and I would’ve been gone.”
Conspiracy theorists – some of whom claim that the government staged the shooting on 1 October or that the tragedy was a hoax – have targeted survivors and victims’ loved ones, spamming every social media platform with misinformation and abuse.
“Obviously a TERRIBLE CRISIS ACTOR,” wrote one Facebook user named Samantha. “HE’S SCAMMING THE PUBLIC … This was a government set up.”
“I hope someone comes after you,” wrote a Facebook user named Josh, “and literally beats the living f*ck outa you.”
Other survivors who gave interviews after the shooting have reported similar threats and abuse.
“If they’re putting it online and promoting it, they should be accountable for that,” said Rob McIntosh, who has been accused of being a crisis actor despite being shot in the chest and arm. “They are providing a service … they need to police it.”
Braden tried to defend himself, but eventually gave up and deleted his Facebook and Instagram accounts. Some said the decision was further evidence that he was part of a government-organized hoax – a staged fake shooting meant to help push gun control policies.
“A really sad part of this is that a lot of these people think they’re fighting the good fight and exposing the truth,” Taylor Matejka Braden’s brother said.