Buffalo Shooting


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On Saturday, May 14th, around 2:30 p.m., an 18 year old white male opened fire at a Buffalo, New York supermarket killing ten people and wounding three others. The Tops Friendly Market is located on Jefferson Avenue, a predominantly black community. According to CNN “Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said, calling the shooting a “straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community.” The shooter, Payton Gendron of Conklin New York, drove to the shooting site wearing tactical gear including plated armor, and live-streamed the attack using a helmet camera to Twitch. Of his weapons, “Police say that Gendron had an AR-15-type rifle, a shotgun, and a bolt-action rifle with him in Buffalo.” NPR News reports that “Extremism researchers are combing through the digital footprint believed to be left behind… ” by Gendron. “Among the materials is a nearly 600-page chat log… documenting roughly six months of personal reflections and activities leading up to the attack. The record, created on the social chat platform Discord, paints a picture of a committed racist obsessed with the mechanics of planning and executing a deadly mass shooting.” Gendron took inspiration from other white supremacists and racially motivated mass shootings such as the 2019 Christchurch shooting in New Zealand.

Back when Gendron was in high school, just two weeks before he was set to graduate in 2021, AP News revealed that he logged on to a virtual learning program in economics class that asked: ‘What do you plan to do when you retire?’ ‘Murder-suicide,’ Gendron typed.” He was taken into custody to be questioned by state police and then a hospital to receive a physiatric evaluation. However, he was released a day and a half later when the “… investigation found no specific, credible threat against the school or any individual from that sign of trouble.” Although this incident was found to show no clear signs of future violence, the attacker’s online presence reflected his intent to harm himself as well as those around him, most evidently black people. The Washington Post comments that “authorities say the suspect explained his actions in a screed that draws heavily from the “great replacement” narrative — a racist theory that maintains native-born Whites are being intentionally displaced as ethnic majorities in their nations.” 

On top of this, the white supremacist had been planning this attack for months, all documented in the online chat app Discord as well as a forum 4chan. According to CNN, he “posted that he selected a particular ZIP code in Buffalo because it had the highest percentage of a Black population close enough to where he lived.” He also had planned on more attacks had he not been intercepted with authorities finding other weapons in his car, one of which had “White Lives Matter” written on the side. The New Yorker reports that “Gendron apparently wrote his Discord posts as a kind of private running diary. He invited other Discord users to read the posts only a few minutes before the shooting—around the same time that he published a hundred-and-eighty-page manifesto online.” One of his posts reads, “‘I went to many stores after my dermatology appointment today,’ Gendron wrote, this past December. ‘Went to McLain’s and finger-f****ed some of his guns, had a NY-safe AR with detachable magazines for $1150 and a Yugoslavian SKS for $775. Then I went to Vintage Firearms and bought some 2 boxes of some old 12 gauge game ammo, priced at 50 shells for $20. Doesn’t have much in the sense of fun things that could cause a lot of damage in short periods of time. Then I went to Pennsylvania guns and ammo and checked them out, has a nice NY-safe diamondback tactical AR-15.'”

Gendron was stopped during the attack by a retired police officer, Aaron Salter, who was killed in the process. He “was awarded the department’s medal of honor at his funeral Wednesday,” and “Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia also posthumously promoted Aaron Salter to lieutenant, saying his actions on May 14 — firing multiple times at the shooter, striking his body armor — bought precious time that allowed others in the store to escape.” Because the shooter was wearing body armor, police estimate that “At least one of his bullets struck the suspect’s armor-plated vest but didn’t pierce it.” Payton Gendron remains held without bail and facing first-degree murder that he pleaded not-guilty to.

Rest in peace Pearl Young (77), Ruth Whitfield (86), Andre Mackniel (53), Katherine ‘Kat’ Massey (72), Celestine Chaney (65), Margus D. Morrison (52), Heyward Patterson (67), Aaron Salter Jr. (55), Roberta Drury (32), Geraldine Talley (62).