BUFFALO, NY – Authorities are investigating if the horrific, racially-motivated mass shooting that took place earlier this month at a Buffalo, New York supermarket could have been avoided altogether if a retired federal agent who allegedly may have known in advance of the deranged gunman’s plans had decided to come forward, according to police.
Payton Gendron of Conklin, 18, arrived at a Tops supermarket around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, armed with a Bushmaster XM-15 assault-style rifle and wearing body armor, a helmet, and military fatigues, according to officials. In all, Gendron fired 50 rounds, leaving 10 dead – all Black people – and three wounded – one Black, two White – in what police said was a “racially motivated hate crime” that specifically targeted Blacks.
When responding officers confronted Gendron, the teen threatened to commit suicide; however, officers managed to talk the suspect down and take him into custody.
The carnage Gendron allegedly carried out that day could have potentially been avoided completely if a former federal agent – possibly from Texas, police say – had relayed his prior communications with the gunman to authorities, officials say.
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Sources within law enforcement have relayed to the media that Gendron – who was known to frequent racist online chat rooms – had communicated with the federal agent in question – who has not yet been named – and at least five other individuals approximately 30 minutes before he carried out his brutal slaughter, according to police.
Officials say that Gendron had extended an invitation to the federal agent and the other individuals in the racist chat room, but it is currently unknown if anyone in the room actually accepted the invitation, according to one of the law enforcement sources.
“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 the source. “What is especially upsetting is that these six people received advanced notice of the Buffalo shooting, about 30 minutes before it happened. The FBI has verified that none of these people called law enforcement to warn them about the shooting. The FBI database shows no advance tips from anyone that this shooting was about to happen.”
Gendron had posted a 180-page document shortly before he allegedly carried out the shooting that centered on the concept of “replacement theory,” a belief some white supremacists hold that minority races will eventually replace White people in the United States.
FBI agents are currently tracking down the individuals who were in the chat room with Gendron before he carried out the shooting; depending on the circumstances, some or all of them could potentially be charged as accomplices in Gendron’s alleged crimes, officials say.
In some states, such as Texas, it is illegal to not report a felony.