The 18-year-old man accused of slaughtering 10 people in Buffalo supermarket earlier this month invited a handful of “like-minded people” to read his shooting plans in an online chatroom about 30 minutes before the mass shooting took place.
Among them, law enforcement sources say, was a retired federal agent, the Buffalo News reported.
Gendron was taken into custody on May 14 after killing nine shoppers and a security guard at a Tops supermarket in a majority Black Buffalo neighborhood. All 10 fatalities and one of two people wounded were Black, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
Gendron reportedly wrote extensively online about racial hatred, espousing the “great replacement” theory that immigrants and people of color are actively trying to “replace” the white population. He drove nearly four hours from his home across the state of New York to carry out the massacre.
The sources told the Buffalo News that Payton Gendron sent an invitation to view his plans to at least six people — including the retired agent, although it’s not clear if he accepted the invitation.
“These were like-minded people who used this chat group to talk about their shared interests in racial hatred, replacement theory and hatred of anyone who is Jewish, a person of color or not of European ancestry,” said one of the two law enforcement officials with close knowledge of the investigation. “What is especially upsetting is that these six people received advanced notice of the Buffalo shooting, about 30 minutes before it happened.
The source said that the FBI has verified that none of the six called law enforcement to warn about the shooting.
Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that Gendron had invited a small group to review and discuss his plans on Discord about 30 minutes before the massacre. Two days later, the Washington Post reported that 15 people had accepted a Discord invitation from Gendron to view and plans and watch the livestream of the massacre.
Several sources close to the investigation told The News that investigators are looking at the retired agent to determine his relationship with Gendron and if he knew about the shooting in advance.
Agents are also looking into an individual Gendron refers to as “Sandman” or “Saint Sandman” in his extensive online writings. Gendron said Sandman advised him about the type of rifle to use in his rampage, and quoted a lengthy comment from Saint Sandman on May 2:
“When the time finally comes to deal decisively with a whole host of society’s problems, and not go to prison for it, you’ll know. Just be ready. You have spent your entire life, from the day you were born, right up to this very moment, reading this sentence, coming to where you are right now. Look around you. Are you content with where you are right now? Are you where you want to be? If so, continue to march. If not, what are you going to do? What’s your plan? Get and keep your mind, body, and spirit right. Pray. Lift. Run. Read. Shoot. And teach your kids to do those things.”
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[Featured image: Police are parked outside the scene of a shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, New York, May 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)]