New York (AFP) - Six families of victims killed in one of America's worst mass shootings have filed a lawsuit against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has claimed the massacre days shortly before Christmas 2012 never happened.
Twenty small children and six adults were killed in less than five minutes on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, by 20-year-old killer Adam Lanza who then turned the gun on himself.
A Connecticut law firm filed the defamation lawsuit in Bridgeport on Wednesday accusing Jones, his far-right website Infowars, other financial backers, one of his guests and another associate of greed in peddling their campaign.
Jones, a Texas-based radio host and Donald Trump supporter, has claimed the massacre was staged and that the 26 bereaved families are paid actors, exposing the families to harassment, death threats and personal attacks on social media.
"Jones has deliberately employed these false narratives... as part of a marketing scheme that has brought him and his business entities tens of millions of dollars per year," said a copy of the 39-page lawsuit.
"He knew his claims were false but he made them anyway to further a simple but pathetic goal: to make money by tearing away at the families' pain," said Josh Koskoff, an attorney for the families.
"He went on a sustained attack that has lasted for years, accusing shattered family members of being actors, stating as fact that the shooting itself was a hoax and inciting others to act on these malicious lies," he added.
According to the lawsuit, Jones has a radio audience of more than two million people and more than 2.3 million subscribers to his YouTube channel.
It seeks monetary and punitive damages, suing for invasion of privacy, defamation, emotional distress, unfair trade practices.
The plaintiffs include an FBI agent who responded to the scene of the shooting.
Within days of the killings, Jones attacked the victims' families, publishing headlines including "Sandy Hook Shooting Exposed as a Fraud," and urged people to "investigate" for themselves, the lawsuit said.
"Because of Jones and his co-conspirators' campaign of unconscionable lies, many thousands of people currently believe that our clients faked their loved ones' deaths," said attorney Matt Blumenthal.
"These families have been continually harassed and abused as a result, all while attempting to face fathomless loss. Today, they say: No more."
Wednesday's suit follows two other defamation lawsuits filed last month in Texas by the parents of two other victims.
The Infowars website is among those that fueled rumors about a Washington pizzeria being a front for a child sex trafficking ring that involved Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff.