Conspiracy theories have always turned me off, and I'm not posing one now -- but doesn't anyone else want to know what happened to Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Fitzsimons?
Deputy Fitzsimons, 42, described as "in an excellent state of mind and health," called in sick sometime April 1 and then died -- his obituary read "unexpectedly." Apparently he was found on his sofa.
That's pretty much the extent of the death report
I called the Sheriff's Office and asked about him, was promised someone would get back to me, but no one ever did.
The rub about Fitzsimons is, his handiwork was all over social media after Feb. 14, questioning the motive behind the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting. He believed the tragedy was being used to promote the Democratic Party's gun-control agenda, to gain traction in the upcoming election.
On one Facebook posting, he had included Douglas student-spokesman David Hogg Photoshopped to look like an SS officer, complete with the Nazi salute and swastika, above the caption, “We will March Until We Disarm Every American.” I was trying to reach Fitzsimons because I wanted to write a story on why he was challenging impassioned and grieving students so publicly, and frankly because he seemed like quite a character and great story fodder.
The truth is, I didn't find out the deputy died until I came across something called Memory Hole Blog. James Tracy, the site's creator, wondered same as I do now how come "the complete 'news blackout' of this curious and untimely death?"
Fitzsimons’ Facebook page has since been “scrubbed” of his 2018 posts, says Tracy. They're gone. They include the ones calling the Parkland shooting or its aftermath into question.
So, here are the so-far sketchy circumstances surrounding Deputy Fitzsimons’ death: The official cause has been attributed to cancer, yet this is contradicted by his obittree.com obituary, stating he “died unexpectedly.” Funeral homes and loved ones often like the “died unexpectedly” phrase when they are reluctant to disclose the true cause of death, as in the case of a suicide.
Like me, Tracy finds it all very mysterious because Fitzsimons' obituary paints a picture of a spiritual man who cared about the truth and the U.S. Constitution, a happy-go-lucky individual who "lived life to the fullest," loved spending time with his friends and singing Kenny Chesney-style karaoke.
"If Fitzsimons in fact died of cancer, the onset must have been extremely sudden," writes Tracy. "Neither the obituary nor accompanying memorials reference any struggle with the disease, but instead point to his inspiring presence while expressing astonishment at the abruptness of his passing."
Tracy tries to connect the dots citing Sandy Hook events. This is what he reports:
"Following the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook School massacre, numerous law enforcement officers with intimate knowledge of the event’s investigation either retired or died unexpectedly. These included Connecticut State Police Major William Podgorski, who passed on, following 'a brief undisclosed illness.'
"As Sandy Hook researcher Tony Mead observed in 2014, 'From Douglas Cottle, who died Sept 29, 2012, at age 62 to Michael Bellmore, who died May 3, 2014 at age 27, more questions than answers seem to arise. The Connecticut State Police commander, the Connecticut State Police commissioner, the Western Connecticut state police Commander as well as the Connecticut state medical examiner have all been eliminated from the story either by retiring or death. What better way to cover up any possibility of ever disclosing the truth? What better way to perpetuate conspiracy theories?'
"Those who received word via Twitter of Fitzsimons’ untimely death have expressed similar doubt and suspicion on the vague and unusual circumstances.
"As is suggested in the aftermath of other recent mass shooting events, Fitzsimons simply may have possessed too much information, was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and/or asked sensitive questions of his peers and superiors on the specifics of the Parkland shooting. It is beyond dispute that the sheriff’s deputy had become uncomfortably outspoken on the February 14 event."
As I said, I'm not into conspiracy theories myself, and maybe there's nothing to any of this. But now that Tracy is wondering out loud why there are more questions than answers about Deputy Fitzsimons, certainly somebody in the Broward Sheriff's Office ought to be forthcoming. Perhaps fellow deputies believe they have to preserve his memory or protect his family. Either way, it's unacceptable. Why should we have to submit a public records request to see the death certificate of a public servant?
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com orat 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith