Mabelton, GA – The Georgia lawmaker who has backtracked and doubled-down on her allegations that a “white man” told her to “go back to where you came from” has also expressed her support for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter.
The gunman, 20, murdered 17 students and faculty during the 2018 massacre, and left 17 more wounded.
“My heart goes out to [the gunman]!!” Georgia State Representative Erica Thomas wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “Some don’t know how to cope with being an orphan. I thank God everyday for getting me through the system in one piece. #FloridaShooting #mentalhealth #PrayforDouglas #prayfornik”
Hunter Pollack, whose sister Meadow was murdered in the attack, blasted Thomas on Twitter on Tuesday.
“Erica Thomas tweeted after my sister was killed that we should pray for her killer. Nothing about his 17 victims,” Hunter railed. “She is now using her race to justify misbehaving at a grocery store. I feel bad for the man being falsely accused of a hate crime!”
“My daughter was the victim,” Meadow’s father, Andrew Pollack, wrote in another tweet. “Her classmates were the victims. Her teachers were the victims. “How dare @itsericathomas give the kid who murdered my daughter even a shred of empathy!”
Ryan Petty, whose 14-year-old daughter Alaina was also murdered in the attack, posted about Thomas’ tweet on Monday.
Thomas deleted the message of support for the mass shooter early Tuesday, FOX News reported.
In 2015, Thomas described herself as the “biggest fan” of Jussie Smollett, who later staged a hate crime on himself in Chicago, according to FOX News.
Smollett claimed he was jumped by two masked Trump supporters as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant in January.
He said the men beat him, hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, and put a noose around his neck before they ran off.
The alleged attackers later told police Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the hate crime, but the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office later dropped all 16 counts against the now-former “Empire” actor.
The controversy surrounding Thomas began on July 19, after a man confronted her for having too many items in a grocery store express lane.
But Thomas’ account of what transpired at the Mableton Publix store has changed a couple of times since she first cried about it in a Facebook post later that day.
I’m about to be very Transparent because this racism and hate is getting out of control!” she captioned the video. “I feared for my life!”
The sobbing lawmaker said that she was at the grocery store on Friday, and that she took 15 items to the 10-item checkout lane.
“Yes, I had 15 items, but I’m nine months pregnant, and I can’t stand up for long,” she said in the video.
Thomas said that a “white man” suddenly approached her, and called her a “lazy son-of-a-b---h.”
“You need to go back where you came from,” the man told her, according to Thomas.
She said that the man told her she was “ignorant,” and that his comments “hurt me so bad.”
Thomas also said that the confrontation upset her nine-year-old daughter, who was with her at the time.
“I can’t even explain to her why he has so much hate in his heart,” she wept. “People need to see the hate that is going on in this country – the hate is real!”
Thomas claimed that the man kept harassing her, and that she was “scared” to leave the store because he could have followed her to her car and pulled out a gun.
She said she also planned to file a complaint with Publix, because they “took too long to step in.”
People are “out of control” with their “white privilege stuff,” she declared. “Why y’all hate people y’all hurt like that?...It’s inciting so much hate!”
On Saturday, the man who confronted Thomas was heading back into the Publix store to speak with the manager about the situation, when he spotted news cameras outside, WXIA reported.
He identified himself as Eric Sparkes, and agreed to provide a statement about his side of the encounter.
Sparkes said he was frustrated when he saw Thomas with approximately 20 items in the 10-item lane, so he went to speak with store associates about the situation.
Two other regular lanes were also open at the time, he added.
They told him it was against store policy for employees to confront Thomas, but noted that it was fine for another customer to say something to her, Sparkes said.
Just as Sparkes was telling reporters about how he decided to confront Thomas about the issue, Thomas suddenly stormed into the interview and began yelling that he shouldn’t “get a spotlight,” WXIA footage showed.
“You are going to jail!” she declared, as she berated Sparkes in front of the cameras.
She then began arguing with Sparkes – who is Cuban – and repeatedly assured him that he is “white.”
“Do you feel bad?” Thomas asked him at one point.
“Do you understand you’re a liar?” he asked her.
Sparkes confirmed that he called Thomas a “lazy b---h,” but adamantly denied having ever told her to go back to where she came from.
Thomas finally stepped to the side, and declared that she was going to allow Sparkes to “have his 15 minutes” of fame, at which point he resumed his interview with reporters.
Sparkes noted that the encounter was captured by surveillance cameras, and that it showed him approaching Thomas and pointing at the sign displaying the item limit for the express lane.
He said that Thomas then came towards him and berated him, and that he took a couple of steps backwards before he told her she was “selfish.” A moment later, he called her a “selfish little b---h,” he confirmed.
“I did say that,” Sparkes reiterated. “That’s all I said, and after that I walked out of Publix.”
The self-proclaimed Democrat adamantly denied having told Thomas to go back to where she came from, and alleged that she was “playing the victim for political purposes.”
“I’m Hispanic,” he railed. “I don’t care what she thinks – she’s doing it for political purposes – period!”
He also denied having ever been evicted from the grocery store.
Thomas again interrupted the interview to declare that Sparkes was in the wrong before she stormed off to her car, the video showed.
In an interview with WSB, Thomas said that Sparkes is guilty of “simple assault,” and claimed that there are witnesses who will support her allegations against him.
But when a reporter started to question her further about Sparkes’ exact words during the exchange, the lawmaker began to falter.
“I mean like, I know what – I don’t know if he said ‘go back,’ you know, those types of words…I don’t wanna say he said ‘go back to your country’ or ‘go back where you came from,’ but he was making those types of references,” she stammered.
A reporter again asked if she remembered Sparkes’ exact words.
“No, no, definitely not,” Thomas responded. “But I know it was ‘go back’ because I know I told him to ‘go back.’”
Thomas said she filed a police report over the altercation, which she labeled as a “hate crime.”
“We have to make an example out of this man…He needs to be arrested,” she declared. “Because I had the courage to do this.”
“I feared for my life,” added Thomas, who is much larger than Sparkes in size.
According to the lawmaker, Publix has also opened an “internal investigation” into the situation in order to determine why none of the employees tried to help her.
During a news conference on Monday, Thomas doubled-down on her allegations against Sparkes, and said she was certain that he had told her to “go back to where you came from,” WSB reported.
“He said it right after he said ‘No, I know you people,’” she told reporters. “You’re ignorant.”
On Tuesday, Cobb County police announced that they conducted a thorough investigation into Thomas’ claims, and that they have no intentions of filing criminal charges against Sparkes, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
Witnesses told police that the confrontation lasted only about 45 seconds, and that Thomas “kept ‘running her mouth’” after Sparkes turned to leave, according to investigators.
Witnesses also said they did not recall having heard Sparkes tell the lawmaker to “go back to where you came from,” The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
“Everyone that knows me knows that I am anti-hate, anti-bigot and anti-racism,” Sparkes said after police announced that he won’t face any charges. “Sadly, too much of media isn’t fact-checking items or they are just taking the word of a politician when they do a live Facebook or a Twitter post.”