Over the weekend, someone shot several times into a building on the University of Alabama - Huntsville campus sometime between Friday evening and Monday morning. The exact time of the shooting is unknown and no one was injured. The damage was discovered when staff returned to work on Monday morning (April 24) and found the damage. The National Weather Service has offices in the building which are manned 24/7, but one heard any gunfire. Seven 5.7 millimeter bullet casings were found by the street next to the building. Three rounds hit windows while the other four hit the side of the building. After investigating it, the local police declared it was a 'random, isolated act.'
The building was the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) building and two of the people with offices in the building are Roy Spencer and John Christy, both noted anti-science, climate change deniers. As it turned out, the March for Science was also conducted over the weekend and started on campus. So, Spencer and Christy have made the claim that the shooting targeted them because a peaceful march opposed to their fake science marched a few blocks away earlier in the weekend. I laughed when I heard that. 'With the evidence they have, they could just have easily concluded Spencer or Christy shot the building themselves,' I thought.
Then, the bells went off.
In fact, the evidence does support the conclusion that Spencer and/or Christy staged the shooting themselves. They are the two people who stand to gain the most from this incident. Let's look.
Spencer and Christy are suspected to falsify their data in order to reach the conclusion they want. An example is their papers in the 1990s that were so bad they even admitted it themselves. But, they only admitted it AFTER other people pointed out the mistakes and, as it turned out, each of those mistakes were in favor of proving the anti-AGW point they wished to reach. Let's put that in context. Spencer and Christy are acknowledged world-class experts in their field and yet, their papers had so many errors the authors themselves admitted their conclusions were invalid. And, these errors had to be found by other people. And, each of these errors supported their anti-AGW claims and none of them worked against those claims. By simple random probability, you would expect at least one of those errors to work against their conclusions. The likelihood this was anything but intentional is not, in my opinion, realistically possible. I must conclude that Spencer and Christy intentionally falsified their paper in order to promote their agenda. At the very least, you have a pattern where acknowledged experts failed to keep their facts in order.
They are even changing the facts on the shooting. Take a look at Spencer's blog post on the incident, the one where he calls it the "christy/spencer building" (it isn't, there are a lot of other people in that building). He states, " All bullets hit the 4th floor, which is where John Christy’s office is..." Oops! UAH Chief of Staff Ray Garner said some shots hit the third floor. Also, police stated the presence of bushes and trees between the hall and the street make it likely someone
wanting to shoot from the street into the building would aim at the top
two floors. Makes sense. If I wanted to shoot the building, I wouldn't shoot into the trees. (NOTE: I have captured a screen shot of his posting in case he tries to change his statements.)
Again, going back to Spencer's blog, he states, "Given that this was Earth Day weekend, with a March for Science passing right past our building on Saturday afternoon..." Another oops! Again, UAH Chief of Staff Ray Garner said the science march did not pass Cramer Hall (the NSSTC building), but started
farther south at Shelbie King Hall.
Here is the route of the march from their Facebook page:
You can see a copy of the campus map here. Cramer Hall (number 22 on the legend) is the building located by itself at the lower center. Shelbie King Hall (number 35 on the legend) is located in the small complex on the lower right. As you can see, if the march started at Shelbie King Hall, it never passed Cramer Hall at all.
Amazing! Spencer still cannot get his facts straight! Did he do that on purpose, or because he simply doesn't care about reporting facts correctly?
And, Spencer and Christy are well know for promoting their agenda (see here and here). Both have been active in the denier-sphere, have made appearances before Congress testifying against actions to address greenhouse gas emissions, and both have been active in public appearances and opinion pieces. Spencer signed a letter encouraging President Trump to withdraw from the UN international convention on climate change and signed an open letter supporting Scott Pruitt for administrator of the EPA. So, their credentials as anti-science climate change deniers is also well documented.
But, it is also important to note that Spencer is a supporter of intelligent design (aka, creationism) and is a signer of the An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming,
which states that "Earth and its ecosystems – created by God's
intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful
providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and
self-correcting". This means Spencer has an established history of rejecting science in favor of his religious beliefs and predetermined world views.
Yes, Spencer has an agenda and is very active promoting it. There is much more on Spencer, none of it good, and you can read my posting about him here.
If Spencer and Christy are able to make people believe they were targeted by the March for Science, it would lend credibility to their claims. And, that's important because both men have been soundly rejected by the scientific community. They are left with having to find a way to get themselves in the news and appear relevant again. At the same time, this presented an opportunity to discredit the March for Science.
So, we have motive.
Take another look at Spencer's blog post. He states, "Despite my personal defense training, I probably would have struggled to
get that tight a “random” cluster with a semi-automatic pistol." Spencer is telling us he owns firearms and has training with them. Also, one of the bullets did indeed pass close to Christy's office, passing through the window of the office next to his and Spencer states the bullets "hit windows and bricks around John Christy’s office." If Christy's office was really targeted, the shooter would need to know where it was. This information is available, but is not general public knowledge. Certainly, Spencer knows where Christy's office is. And, the university police stated they did not find any images from campus
security cameras or the cameras at a nearby defense contractor that could help in the investigation. This raises the possibility that the person who did the shooting knew where to go to avoid surveillance cameras.
We have a means.
The shooting occurred some time between Friday evening when people left work and some time Monday morning when workers started to return. Spencer and Christy would be well aware of the fact the building and the surrounding area would be deserted over the weekend. It would be simple for them to go out during the night, make sure the area was empty of witnesses, and commit the crime.
We have opportunity.
Means, motive, and opportunity.
These three things must be proven in order to convict someone of a crime. It is important that establishing these three elements is not, in and of itself, sufficient to convict someone. So, I cannot say here, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Spencer and/or Christy staged this crime.
But, it should be enough to investigate them.