The Nashville school shooter has been falsely identified as Samantha Hyde on social media

By: Rajini KG
March 30 2023

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The Nashville school shooter has been falsely identified as Samantha Hyde on social media


The Verdict False

An image of American comedian Samuel Whitcomb Hyde has been digitally morphed and wrongly linked to the recent school shooting in Nashville, U.S.

Claim ID 62f61127


On March 27, 2023, a mass shooting by a former student at the Presbyterian-affiliated Covenant School in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., left three adults and three children dead. Following the tragedy, fake videos and images related to the Nashville shooting have started emerging on social media. A Twitter user posted a photo and claimed that the police have identified the Nashville school shooter as one “Samantha Hyde." An image of a woman holding a gun has been attached to the tweet. However, this image is fake and has been digitally morphed. The picture is a long-running hoax that has circulated after several mass shootings.

In Fact

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department has released the details of the suspected shooter on its social media accounts and website. The shooter's name is not Samantha Hyde, and the image of the suspect does not match the image that is being shared by authorities. 

Through a reverse image search, we found that the image in the tweet is a morphed photograph of American comedian Samuel Hyde and was first shared in November 2015. The original image was shared on the Facebook account of Million Dollar Extreme — a comedy sketch group led by Samuel Whitcomb Hyde, popularly known as Sam Hyde. The original photograph shows Sam Hyde and three others — one Charles Carroll and one Max Tyler (according to the Facebook tags) — holding firearms in a forested area. A jeep can also be spotted behind them. The photograph posted in 2015 and the now-viral image share the same background. The original image has been digitally edited to change the appearance of Sam Hyde. The morphed photo gave Hyde features that are conventionally considered feminine, and the related claims said Hyde was a "transgender woman." We found that the original image was taken during a prank video shot in Canada. The video was also shared on the YouTube channel of the group Million Dollar Extreme on November 26, 2016.  

According to a report published by The New York Times in 2017, comedian Sam Hyde's image has been previously falsely linked to many shootings in the past and has been a long-running hoax. Sam is known for his pranks and internet hoaxes. Buzzfeed News reported that since 2015, Hyde's image has been linked to mass shootings in Parkland, Las Vegas, San Bernardino, and Orlando. It also reported that his 2015 image from Canada was first shared as a joke on the website 4chan, along with other photoshopped images with different names, like "Samantha Hyde" and "Samir Al-Hajeed." However, Hyde has no connection to any of the shootings. YouTubers Drachenlord and Paul Denino have also similarly been victims of this kind of hoax, the report added.

Kevin Shakir, a journalist from DR news (a news website in Denmark), had posted Sam Hyde's image and tweeted in 2020, "Rumors are spreading regarding terror attack in #Vienna. As with other shootings and attacks seen in Europe, NZ and the US the last few years, anonymous social media accounts and 4chan-users are sharing this image of Sam Hyde, an American comedian, claiming he is the terrorist."

Many fact-checking organizations have debunked narratives where Sam Hyde was linked to different incidents. Earlier, his image was also linked to the Ukrainian ace pilot dubbed the 'Ghost of Kyiv', as well as the Yakuza member Samzuki Hydaiko who assassinated former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Nashville police identified the March 27 shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Hale. Hale had attended the school where the shooting took place several years and was armed with two assault-type guns and a 9-millimeter pistol on the day of the tragic incident. According to the police, two officers responding to a 911 call shot Hale to death on site.

The Verdict

A digitally altered photograph of comedian Samuel Hyde has been shared as a photo of the Nashville school shooter. Hyde's photograph and his links to shootings have been a long-standing hoax that has been debunked before. Therefore we mark this claim false. 

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We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before