Suspect in Buffalo Mass Shooting Had Reportedly Been Planning Racist Attack for Months, Relative Blames Pandemic

Suspected shooter and white supremacist Payton Gendron has also been reported to have exhibited red flags prior to the domestic terrorism attack.

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Newly reported information on the accused shooter behind this month’s racist attack at a Buffalo supermarket reveals the 18-year-old had been planning his actions for months. A relative, meanwhile, is reported to have attempted to blame the mass shooting—which resulted in the deaths of 10 Black victims at a Tops Friendly Markets store and is widely referred to as an incident of domestic terrorism—on issues related to the pandemic.

Citing diary entries said to have been posted on Discord by suspect Payton Gendron, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the accused white terrorist had written back in November about staging an attack on Black people and streaming it live.

Also included in the reported diary entries, which were provided to to the AP by an official from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, were mentions of having traveled to the store as part of the planning process and “tallies” of how many Black people he saw at the location.

.@DAErieCountyNY released mugshot of Tops gunman Payton Gendron, 18 years old, of Conklin. He was arraigned last night on one count of murder in the first.

— Josh Cradduck (@JoshNBCTV) May 15, 2022

Gendron was arraigned in Buffalo City Court on Saturday on a single count of first-degree murder and remanded without bail. Per the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, a felony hearing is set for this Thursday. He’s alleged to have traveled to the Tops location on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, where he first shot multiple people outside with an assault weapon while wearing tactical gear.

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Once entering the store, Gendron is alleged to have shot additional individuals, including a security guard. 10 people were killed, while three others sustained injuries during the racist attack. The ongoing investigation currently includes the involvement of the Buffalo Police Department, New York State Police, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, ATF, and FBI.

In a recent statement, attorney Ben Crump—who has been retained by the family of Ruth Whitfield, one of the victims in the May 14 attack—called the shooting an “all too familiar scenario” and called on authorities to swiftly inform grieving families how, exactly, a vocal white supremacist was able to carry out this act of terrorism.

“We will get answers for these families, and we will hold those responsible for this tragedy accountable,” Crump said.

Coverage in subsequent days has also been given to other reports on the alleged “manifesto” from the accused attacker, which—per a report from regional outlet WIVB—included statements in line with the racist conspiracy theory known as “the Great Replacement.” The theory, as explained in this breakdown from the Anti-Defamation League, has been platformed in recent years by everyone from former U.S. representative and Trump-backing Republican Steve King to Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.

A photo originally obtained by CNN and cited in a recent report showed that two guns Gendron is alleged to have taken with him to the location of the attack (but not used) included various racist phrases written on them, including “white lives matter.” TMZ later shared another photo of one of Gendron’s alleged weapons.

Meanwhile, the New York Postran a piece on Monday that included remarks from Sandra Komoroff, identified as a cousin of Gendron’s mother. Komoroff attempted to place blame on the pandemic, arguing that suspected domestic terrorist “bought into the fear of COVID,” whatever that means.

“That’s the only way to say it. And when you’re home all day on the internet, you’re missing out on human contact,” she was quoted as saying. “There’s a lot of emotions and a lot of body language you’re not getting [as] when you see their face.”

The attack also again raises questions about how clear red flags are handled by authorities. Gendron, for example, has been confirmed to have been investigated over a threat he made at school less than a year before the Tops attack. Despite this, as critics have pointed out in recent days, he was later able to legally purchase an AR-15-style rifle.

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President Joe Biden spoke in Buffalo on Tuesday, saying, “White supremacy is a poison. It’s a poison. … And it’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes. No more. I mean no more. We need to say as clearly and [forcefully] as we can that the ideology of white supremacy has no place in America. None.”

President Biden speaks in Buffalo following mass shooting, saying 'white supremacy is a poison.'

"It's been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes. No more."

— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 17, 2022

Jill and I are in Buffalo to stand with the community and to grieve with the families. As a nation, we must find purpose to live a life worthy of those we lost. We must resolve that from tragedy will come hope and light and life.

— President Biden (@POTUS) May 17, 2022

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