Fact Check: Officials Did NOT Warn Residents To Prepare For Disaster Or Biological Attack During Solar Eclipse April 8, 2024

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Officials Did NOT Warn Residents To Prepare For Disaster Or Biological Attack During Solar Eclipse April 8, 2024 Visitor Influx

Does a video on social media contain "insider intel" regarding a bioterrorism attack that will be carried out on crowds gathered to watch the April 8, 2024, solar eclipse? No, that's not true: There is no evidence provided in this video of specific insider information about a biological attack or other disaster. The insider information purportedly comes second-hand from an anonymous source. The video and many similar claims misrepresent factual news reporting about emergency management preparations for a large influx of people traveling to see the eclipse around the country in order to support more extreme disaster claims that are not backed up.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on Instagram by @deep.dive.revelation on March 19, 2024, with the caption:

YouTube channel - JWTv - followed him for a while now
Long, but worth a listen.

Have you seen any warnings about the upcoming eclipse?!

This is how the post appeared on Instagram at the time of writing:


(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Wed Mar 20 13:42:18 2024 UTC)

This 13:22-minute-long video titled, "Insider Exposes April 8th Emergency & More You Must Know" was streamed live on the YouTube channel JW Tv on March 15, 2024. The channel's about page identifies the host as former MMA fighter and ex-computer science student Steven Jackson.

As the video starts Jackson relays that the sheriff called him "yesterday" and that he was left feeling "nerve rattled" after what he heard. He relays what the sheriff purportedly told him (at 1:05 minutes in),:

He said they were focusing on anti-vaccine people, anti-government people, preppers, Trump supporters, he even goes into deeper in the scenario what we're going to get to here in a second -- but he said they didn't want the public to have any communication between each other, any communication at all
After this, at 1:29 minutes in, Jackson shares some video clips of a News 5 Cleveland segment that aired on March 5, 2024. The News 5 video posted on YouTube is titled, "Lake County prepares for solar eclipse with advice from cities previously in path of totality." Featured in these clips are Lake County, Ohio, Sheriff Frank Leonbruno and Emergency Management Director Joseph Busher speaking about their preparations for the April 8, 2024, solar eclipse. Leonbruno said they had been in contact with law enforcement in cities who had been in the path of an eclipse in the past who found that what was usually a half-hour travel might turn into a six- to eight-hour trip. He said most schools in Lake County would be closed and that they were beefing up their staffing of first responders for accidents and medical emergencies. He also expressed a more serious concern:

That people who want to do us harm -- use an event like this where a lot of people are gathered to do some type of terror event.

Although Jackson never identifies the name of the sheriff he spoke with, the way this video is edited gives the impression that it was Leonbruno. At 2:44 minutes in, Jackson's video he returns to what the sheriff told him on the phone call, relaying:
The intel that they've got is a possible biological attack on people while the solar eclipse is freaking happening.
Lead Stories reached out by email to Leonbruno for clarification and he replied on March 20, 2024, writing:
I never spoke to this man and what he is saying is no conversation I ever took part in. Yes, I discussed the eclipse with the Channel 5 reporter. However, the extent I spoke about terrorism is only what you hear me say in the Channel 5 video. All law enforcement today worries about terror threats during large gatherings. I have no specific info of a specific terror threat here in Lake County to take place during the eclipse.
At 4:00 minutes into Jackson's video he introduces another clip from a news broadcast, this one from KKTV 11 News in Southern Colorado (about 700 miles away from the path of totality). The KKTV video titled, "FBI, Colorado Springs hospitals undergo biological terrorism training" was posted on YouTube on February 21, 2024. After the newsclip, Jackson returns to his live broadcast encouraging people to share his video and warning that people could be hit by biological material that is probably going to be dispersed on crowds when this event happens.
Lead Stories reached out to the FBI field office in Denver to ask about the training, which was conducted at the hospitals, and if it was connected to the eclipse or any other specific threats. FBI Public Affairs Officer Vikki Migoya replied on March 20, 2024. Providing links, she said that every local media outlet in Colorado Springs covered the story:
  • Fox21: Colorado Springs hospitals conduct full-scale disaster drill with FBI
  • KKTV: FBI, Colorado Springs hospitals train for biological terrorism attack
  • KOAA: Colorado Springs hospitals and FBI work on emergency preparedness with bioterrorism exercise
  • KRDO: Colorado Springs health leaders participate in a mock bioterrorism training act
  • Gazette: CommonSpirit hospitals conduct large-scale bioterrorism exercise in Colorado Springs
The FBI Denver Facebook page posted about the event on February 21, 2024 (pictured below). Migoya finished by clarifying:

The FBI routinely trains with law enforcement and community partners. The Feb. 21 training had nothing to do with any solar event.

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Mar 20 22:57:04 2024 UTC)
There are many similar posts on social media misrepresenting the preparations of various emergency management officials in the path of totality. They anticipate a large influx of eclipse viewers that may more than double the local population in less populated areas. Many anticipate traffic issues, the potential for gas and food shortages and even cellphone outages. Some social media posts have taken the precautionary warnings and represented them as evidence of an impending disaster. In the composite image below are examples of three such posts (this will open larger in a new window).
A March 14, 2024, post on Facebook (below left) contains seven screenshots of news reports about preparations. The post's caption focuses mainly on the first image, a photo of a print newspaper that Lead Stories confirmed was from the March 12, 2024, edition of the McCurtain Gazette in Idabel, Oklahoma. The post's caption makes assumptions that are not true. For example, during the 2017 eclipse, the Oregon National Guard was deployed to help with the influx of people there, and the Kentucky National Guard regularly helps with crowds at the Kentucky Derby. The caption read:
Why would any town need the national guards, present, for a solar eclipse ? Unless something is happening that they are not telling us about 🤔. Too many .warnings from media and people..going on , about this eclipse event.We have never had eclipse warnings before and being told to stock up on food and supplies etc
The newspaper clipping with the title, "National Guard to be here for eclipse" begins:
The Oklahoma National Guard will have guardsmen present in McCurtain County for the total solar eclipse on April 8, County Emergency Management Director Cody McDaniel told county com- missioners.
It's estimated about 100,000 people may be in the county for the event. The 22 members of an elite Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear unit will be housed in Broken Bow, in addition to up to 110 to 150 Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers.
The unit in question is the Oklahoma National Guard's 63rd Civil Support Team, which published a news article on March 18, 2024, titled, "Oklahoma National Guard to assist McCurtain County amid influx of eclipse tourism." Lt. Col. Jabonn Flurry, 63rd CST commander was quoted:
McCurtain County Emergency Management requested our support because they expect up to 100,000 additional people visiting their communities to watch the eclipse. This influx of visitors has the potential to overtax local resources and thanks to the training and experience our Guardsmen have working alongside local agencies all across Oklahoma, the CST is uniquely qualified to support our fellow Oklahomans.
eclipsecomposite.jpg 🗯️
(Source: Lead Stories composite image with screenshots from Facebook and Instagram)

A video posted on Instagram on March 20, 2024 (center above) had the incredulous caption, "Declaring State of Disaster Before THE ECLIPSE??🤨🤔" In this situation, the Declaration of Local Disaster (PDF here) in Travis County Texas, was not a reflection of an actual disaster that had already happened, or that was even anticipated to happen. It's a technicality that allows law enforcement and first responders to take proactive measures, explained on the county's eclipse countdown webpage:
The disaster declaration enables Travis County to take actions necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents and visitors and position itself for aid and assistance if needed.
Eclipse Gathering Registration
Under the disaster declaration, private property owners in the unincorporated areas of Travis County will be required to notify the County if they plan to host a gathering with more than 50 people to watch the eclipse.
A reel posted on Facebook on March 14, 2024, is missing some context (above right). It warns:
Stock Up On Food, Water And Fuel Ahead Of The Eclipse, Emergency Officials Warn
These words are also the title of the article linked in the caption of Jamal King's reel. King lists his location as United Kingdom. The linked article is on a website also based in the U.K., iflscience.com. The March 13, 2024, article relays a warning for residents in Lorain County, Ohio, from their Emergency Management Agency. This Ohio county on Lake Erie, to the west of Cleveland, is in the center of the path of totality. Upon reading the article on the Lorain County Eclipse page it is clear the warning was intended for residents in the area who would be affected by the influx of eclipse viewers, not an international audience.

Resident Preparation Tips:

Due to our location on the line of totality, there is a possibility that our population could increase during the event due to visitors. The influx of people could have effects on our residents. While the Eclipse will occur on Monday, April 8th, it is likely that many visitors will come in over the weekend and stay in the area. This could cause any/all of the following:

  • Difficulty accessing food, gas, and supplies due to traffic issues.
  • Increased traffic or jammed roadways.
  • Increased wait times for services such as hospitals, restaurants and gas stations.
  • Possible loss of cell phone signal due to system overload.

Residents can prepare prior to the event by using the following tips:

  • Gas up vehicles before the weekend (April 6/7).
  • Stock up on food and drinks prior to the event.
  • Avoid scheduling appointments on Monday, April 8th (Doctor, etc.).
  • Avoid travel over the weekend.
Lead Stories reached out for comment to Emergency Management Director Joseph Busher in Lake County, Ohio, and will update this article if we receive a reply.
Additional Lead Stories fact checks about the solar eclipse can be found here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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