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Suspect in Buffalo shooting was investigated last year over threat

Residents of Buffalo are still reeling after a gunman launched a racially motivated attack at a grocery store, killing 10 people. (Video: Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

An 18-year-old White man is accused of opening fire Saturday at a supermarket in Buffalo, killing 10 people and injuring three others, said law enforcement officials, who are investigating the incident as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism. Eleven of the 13 people shot were Black.

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Two law enforcement officials told The Washington Post that the suspect in the case, Payton Gendron, was investigated less than a year ago by state police after they received a report that he’d made a threatening statement at his high school. A state police spokesman didn’t confirm the name, but said that a student at the high school was taken into custody on June 8, 2021, and evaluated at a mental hospital. He was not charged.

On Saturday, Gendron, of Conklin, N.Y., was arrested and charged in connection with the shooting in Buffalo. He pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.

Authorities say that Gendron drove to Buffalo and carried out the shooting at Tops Friendly Markets using an assault weapon while dressed in tactical gear and live-streaming his actions online. After shooting people in the parking lot and inside the store, according to officials, Gendron surrendered.

Authorities say they are examining a 180-page document they suspect Gendron posted online, in which he refers to himself as a white supremacist and an antisemite and details a plan to target a predominantly Black neighborhood.

The Buffalo Police Department late Sunday released the names of the victims. Those killed ranged in age from 32 to 86, while the three injured are 20, 50 and 55.

President Biden has condemned the attack, calling on Americans to “address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America.” He and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Buffalo on Tuesday to meet with the community.

The mass shooting is the deadliest of 2022, according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. It is also the latest massacre in recent years carried out by perpetrators allegedly driven by hate and racism, deadlier than the 2015 shooting at a historic African American church in Charleston, S.C., by Dylann Roof, who was referenced in the document.

Here’s what to know

  • A spokesperson for the live-streaming platform Twitch said the gunman began filming and sharing the attack, but the company removed the stream two minutes after the violence started.
  • One of the victims was a security guard at the store, who fired back, but the gunman’s body armor deflected the shot. A law enforcement official called the security guard a “hero.”
  • The gunman was allegedly inspired by a racist idea that has gained currency on popular right-wing television programs and in the halls of Congress.