Michigan Woman Blames Internet Conspiracy Theories for Father’s Fatal Shooting Rampage

A Michigan woman whose father committed a fatal shooting attack against their family on September 11 2022 identified the “QAnon” conspiracy theory and several strands of online disinformation for the mental degeneration that preceded his actions.

“He had a sense of reality,” Rebecca Lanis told the Daily Beast. “But then after 2020, when [Donald] Trump lost, he started going down these crazy rabbit holes.”

Fact Check

Claim: QAnon Conspiracy Theories Led to a Fatal Shooting Rampage

Description: A Michigan woman, Rebecca Lanis, has attributed her father’s fatal shooting rampage, which resulted in the death of her mother and pet, and wounding her sister, to the ‘QAnon’ conspiracy theories and online disinformation that led to his mental degeneration.

Rating: Cherry-picked

Rating Explanation: Rebecca Lanis stated that her father’s mental decline and subsequent violent actions were due to his immersion in QAnon conspiracy theories. The event added to multiple instances that linked QAnon to acts of violence.

Lanis’ father, 53-year-old Igor Lanis, shot and killed her mother, Tina Lanis, as well as the family’s dog during the attack; the elder Lanis also shot and wounded 25-year-old Rachel Lanis, who reportedly escaped the house and managed to contact police. The Detroit News reported that Rachel Lanis was placed in stable condition following her father’s rampage.

Officers shot and killed Igor Lanis at the scene after he allegedly began shooting at them with a shotgun.

Rebecca Lanis, who was not at the house during the attack, called QAnon “a very big contributor” toward her father’s attack.

“I think that he was always prone to [mental issues],” she told the News. “But it really brought him down when he was reading all those weird things on the internet.”

Lanis also identified herself as the Reddit account behind a post further describing her father’s mental descent into the weaponized conspiracy theory:

In 2020 after Trump lost, my dad started going down the Q rabbit hole. He kept reading conspiracy theories about the stolen election, Trump, vaccines, etc. He always said he wanted to keep us safe and healthy.

It kept getting worse and he verbally snapped at us a few times. Nothing physical though. He never got physical with anybody.

Well, at around 4 AM on September 11, he had an argument with my mother and he decided to take our guns and shoot her, my dog and my sister. My mother succumbed to her wounds and my sister is in the hospital right now.

The Daily Beast also noted that “QAnon” — a conspiracy theory positing Trump as a heroic figure defending U.S. interests from a nebulous array of government-related forces — has been linked to several other killings:

A California man who allegedly murdered his 10-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son in Mexico told police that his crimes were motivated by QAnon, according to prosecutors. In 2019, a QAnon believer allegedly killed the purported head of the Gambino mafia family in a misguided attempt to bring him to a QAnon tribunal. That suspect was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial. Earlier that year, a Seattle QAnon believer convinced his brother was a lizard person murdered him with a samurai sword.

Michigan has also been a hotbed of related weaponized disinformation campaigns for several years, including some that have culminated in specific violent or threatening actions based on the lie that Trump really won the 2020 election over current United States President Joe Biden. (He did not.)

For example:

  • In April 2020 a rash of right-wing demonstrators congregated at the Michigan statehouse to protest social safety measures enacted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • That October, several men were arrested after investigators found they used Facebook to organize a plot to kidnap Whitmer; two of them, Adam Fox and Barry Croft, were convicted in August 2022 on charges of kidnapping conspiracy and “conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.”
  • In December 2020, a group of fake right-wing “electors” aided by GOP state Reps. Matt Maddock and Daire Rendon were stopped while in the process of attempting to enter the state Capitol and cast fraudulent votes for Trump. After the conclusion of her term in office, Rendon was arraigned on August 1 2023 on charges of conspiracy to commit undue possession of a voting machine and false pretenses, both of which are felonies.

Like many of the other conspiracy theories motivating real-life violence, QAnon is a slightly reworked retelling of a decades-old weaponized and highly antisemitic narrative that is perhaps best known as the fully debunked and discredited satire, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Update 8/2/2023, 2:11 p.m. PST: Updated to reflect criminal charges against former state Rep. Daire Rendon. — ag