The Democratic lawmaker from the state of Georgia who recently stated in a tearful viral video that a white man told her to "come back from where she came from" on the way out of a grocery store, then backtracked her story, before folding it again. A sympathy note rang out for the mass shooter of Nikolas Cruz High School last year on social media.
"My heart is with Nikolas Cruz! Some do not know how to deal with being an orphan. I thank God every day for helping me with the one-piece system. #FloridaShooting #mental health #PrayforDouglas #prayfornik", State Representative Erica Thomas wrote on February 16, 2018.
Thomas deleted the tweet early Tuesday, but an archived version is available here.
Cruz, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons, shot and killed 17 people on February 14, 2018. More than a dozen people were injured.
Several journalists and commentators pointed out and condemned Thomas' publication Monday night, including Mike Cernovich, Harry cherryY Ryan Petty. Petty is the father of Alaina Petty, who was killed in the high school shooting.
In a separate tweet from March 2015, Thomas called herself "the biggest fan" of Jussie Smollet. Smollet falsely claimed earlier this year that he was violently attacked by pro-Trump racists in Chicago.
On Monday, Thomas reiterated his viral claim that a white man told him to "come back from where he came from" during a disputed discussion in an exit lane of a supermarket, after returning the claim over the weekend. The man has denied that the meeting took place as she described it.
The episode, on the heels of a national controversy over President Trump's comments addressed to four progressive Democrats, quickly reached social media.
Multiple news organizations on Sunday described the episode as a plausible case of racism using the legislator's original claim, although she had already tried to clarify her accusations.
WARNING: THE VIDEO BELOW CONTAINS PROFANITY
Thomas herself admitted In an interview with local media on Saturday, he didn't remember exactly what the man, Eric Sparkes, had told him.
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"He said & # 39; come back & # 39 ;, you know, those kind of words," Thomas said Saturday. "I don't want to say that he said & # 39; go back to your country & # 39; or & # 39; go back to where you come from, but I was making those kind of references, that's what I remember.
"So, you don't remember exactly what he said?" A reporter pressed.
Thomas replied: "No, no, definitely not. But I know it was & # 39; back & # 39 ;, because I know I told him & # 39; to come back & # 39;".
That admission contradicted the weeping video Thomas posted on Facebook last Friday, in which he said he was with his young daughter in the market and had more than 10 items in the supermarket's express lane.
"I decided to go live because I am very upset, because people are really out of control with this, with these things of white privilege," he said. "I'm in the supermarket and I'm in … the aisle that says & # 39; 10 items or less & # 39; yes, I have 15 items, but I'm nine months pregnant and I can't stand long, and this man White approaches me and tells me: & # 39; You, lazy son of a b — h … You need to return from where you come from & # 39; ".
Thomas continued to accuse Trump of inciting hatred. During Saturday's television interview, she said Sparkes "should be held responsible because people can't just go out and reprimand pregnant women."
However, at a press conference with his lawyer on Monday, Thomas doubled his original allegation.
"He said: & # 39; Come back from where you come from! & # 39;" Thomas insisted, saying that the man "kept harassing me."
"I was ashamed and I was afraid for my life," he said.
Sparkes has strongly denied making the racially charged comment and, in a dramatic moment, appeared in the middle of a television interview with Thomas outside the Publix store in the Atlanta area, where the initial confrontation had developed.
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"Did I say that? Is it on video?" Sparkes asked Thomas in front of the reporters. He acknowledged calling Thomas "a lazy b — h" because she had brought too many items to the fast pay line, but denied that the incident had anything to do with race.
Sparkes later told WSB-TV that despite Thomas's claim that he is white, he is of Cuban descent and, like Thomas, is a Democrat. Sparkes said Thomas's accusations had political motivations.
Louis Casiano of Fox News contributed to this report.