Buffalo white supremacist, 18, threatened a school graduation shooting last year and was given psychiatric treatment – but still legally bought three guns: Classmates reveal he acted strangely, wore hazmat suit to school for a week and scared them with ‘Hitler-esque’ political views
- Payton Gendron, 18, was investigated by the New York State Police for threating to shoot his classmates during graduation in June 2021
- Police suggested mental health evaluation and counseling
- Classmates recall his ‘Hitler-esque’ political leanings during a political science exercise
- Gendron wore a hazmat suit to school for the first week of his senior year to protect against Covid
- In his 180-page manifesto refers to the paranoid white supremacist theory of ‘white replacement’
- He looks up to other racially-motivated spree killers like Dylan Roof who killed nine people in a black church in South Carolina
- At least 10 people were killed and three were reported injured after a gunman opened fire inside a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday while livestreaming
- Gendron had the n-word scrawled on his rifle, targeted a store in a predominantly black area and shot 11 black people, police said
- Erie County District Attorney John Flynn charged him with one count of first degree murder
- The suspect, filmed wearing a military uniform, has been taken into custody by the Buffalo Police Department and will be charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder as early as Saturday night
- The suspect was reportedly wearing body armor as witnesses said they saw the man wearing a black helmet and carrying a rifle into the store
- Ex-Buffalo cop Aaron Salter Jr, who was working at the market as a security guard, tried to stop the gunman but was fatally shot himself
- 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, the mother of the former Buffalo fire commissioner, was also gunned down
- New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, said the state is providing assistance to the Buffalo Police Department
- N-word could be seen written on the front sight of gunman’s automatic rifle
- President Biden says ‘hate must have no safe harbor’
A teenage white supremacist who murdered 10 people at a Buffalo, NY threatened to shoot a classmate at his high school graduation last year.
Officials at the Susquehanna Valley High School brought in New York State Police to investigate Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, NY, in June of 2021 after he made statements that he would shoot fellow students.
A year later he ended up shooting 13 people – 10 of them fatally – during an attack motivated by his hatred for black people at a Top Market supermarket in Buffalo. The two victims so-far named are retired cop turned store security guard Aaron Salter and shopper Ruth Whitfield, an 86 year-old grandmother.
‘A school official reported that this very troubled young man had made statements indicating that he wanted to do a shooting, either at a graduation ceremony, or sometime after,’ a government source told the Buffalo News.
After police looked into the account, Gendron was referred for mental health evaluation and counseling.
Classmates said that he often acted strangely at times and espoused extremist views on politics.
Last year, one former student recalled, Gendron wore a hazmat suit to school for a week. She believed it had something to do with protecting himself from the coronavirus, but she didn’t rule out the fact that he was making a joke.
‘It was the most extra thing that I ever saw him do,’ a former classmate who asked not to be named said.
There were other indications of Gendron’s fragile mental state.
During a class exercise in political class in which the students created their own countries with the government of their choice, Gendron’s pick was an autocratic regime that the classmate described as ‘Hitler-esque.’
‘His views were extreme,’ the student said. ‘You could pick any form of government that you wanted and he picked a totalitarian government.’
Payton traveled from his home in Conklin, New York, to carry out the atrocity. He lived there with his father Paul (pictured unpixellated) and mom Pamela, pictured in red, both of whom are engineers for the New York Department of Transportation
Payton Gendron, 18, far left, holds a harmless facsimile to the automatic rifles that he used to murder 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket
Payton and his mom, Pamela Gendron, enjoy a day out at the amusement park. Neighbors say that outwardly they appeared to be the perfect family
Payton Gendron, left rear, dining on steam crabs with his brothers and father, who works as a civil engineer for New York State
The classmate recalled that he almost collided with her head on in his car, but she brushed it off at the time to careless driving.
‘He was definitely into video games – shooter games,’ she said.
‘It’s so mind-blowing to think that it could have been us,’ she said. ‘I know he had his manifesto, but what if he decided to do a test run on us.’
For the most part he was quiet, but she said he would ‘smile weirdly’ when he spoke to people. She said she didn’t remember him every having a girlfriend.
Gendron is one of four boys born to Paul and Pamela Gendron, two civil engineers with the state who live in Conklin, NY, three and half hours south of Buffalo. Paul coached his kids in the town soccer league and at least one neighbor found him ‘strange.’ His mother appeared conceited, locals said.
‘He’s from this pristine family,’ a schoolmate said. ‘They have everything together, they were just perfect.’
In photos posted by his mother on Facebook, Payton Gendron appears to tower over his father and others.
‘He was 6’1″ or 6’2″‘ his schoolmate said. ‘He was a big guy.’
The family appears to be a tight-knit suburban family that played LaserTag together, when to Autumn festivals, the beach and dined together in restaurants.
Neighbors said they were odd.
‘To be honest, the mother was kind of snooty,’ a local parent who asked not to be named said. ‘Like she was better than everyone else. The father was strange. Like when you meet someone and they just seem off.’
A neighbor recalled him bringing home a human-sized Brontosaurus that he build for a school project. School records show that he was a good student and made high honors in his senior year, scoring higher than 92 percent in all his classes.
Facebook photos show that Gendron went on a few college tours and spent some time enrolled in Broome County Community College. A college spokeswoman told he Buffalo News that he was no longer enrolled.
‘They have a really nice family,’ neighbor Nancy Santucci said. ‘They seem like regular people. In a million years I never would think that anyone from this neighborhood would drive to Buffalo to carry out a racially motivated shooting.’
‘I’m just shocked,’ she said.
The young man posted a 180-page manifesto online before the shooting espousing the paranoid white supremacist views that whites were being replaced in American by people of color.
In the screed, he says that he was radicalize by 4Chan, the same online chat group that launched Qanon. He claims that critical race theory is a Jewish plot to undermine white which he argues is a reason to kill Jews.
He also refers to other mass shootings carried out to further racist ideology like Dylan Roof, who who killed nine people in a black church in South Carolina and New Zealand lunatic Brenton Tarrant, who murdered 51 people in mosque.
Gendron also espoused the ‘great replacement theory’, which claims Democrats are deliberately importing illegal migrants into the US wholesale to achieve electoral dominance while driving whites to extinction.
On Saturday night, Gendron who was barefoot, masked and wearing a paper smock, told the judge that he understood the charge against and was not guilty at an arraignment Saturday evening.
He has only been charged with one count of first-degree murder. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said the judge ordered a forensic examination and ordered him held without bail.
‘We have taken the necessary steps to get him behind bars,’ he said. ‘That was justice. Getting that first murder charge filed immediately.’
The DA said that they are working with federal authorities to bring further terrorism, hate crime and murder charges.
He made no other comment, and Gendron’s lawyer confirmed he planned to plead not guilty to the killings. Conklin has since been pictured in social media profiles.
Hours earlier Gendron was caught by police emerging from the Tops Friendly Supermarket, at 1275 Jefferson Avenue about 2.30pm after shooting 13 people, 10 fatally.
Survivors have since told of how they fled to the supermarket’s freezer in terror. And operations manager Shonnell Harris told of how she fled out the back of the shop to what she hoped was safety – only to see Gendron gun down a victim in front of her.
Police said 11 of those shot were black, with the other two white, and suggested Gendron had walked through the supermarket looking for specific people to target, although didn’t say whether this was based on the color of their skin.
Aaron Salter Jr, a former Buffalo police officer, is the first victim that’s been named in the attack. The father of three is being hailed as a hero after exchanging gunfire with Gendron inside the market.
Gendron apparently scrawled the n-word on his rifle before carrying out Saturday’s massacre at Tops Friendly Supermarket in Buffalo.
Three gunshot victims are being treated for their injuries, and cops say 11 of those shot were black.
Gendron lived-streamed the assault as he opened fire inside the Tops Friendly Supermarket, at 1275 Jefferson Avenue, at about 2.30pm.
Police described the incident as a ‘heavily armed’ attack.
‘He exited his vehicle. He was very heavily armed. He had tactical gear. He had a tactical helmet on. He had a camera that he was livestreaming what he was doing,’ city Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a news conference.
Payton Gendron is pictured at his arraignment Saturday, as disturbing details of his extremist views emerged
Gendron donned a paper outfit and mask for the hearing, and was barefoot. He spoke only to confirm that he understands the charge that he faces, with his lawyer saying that he intended to deny the allegations
Retired Buffalo Police Department cop Aaron Salter, pictured right, has been named as the first victim of the tragedy. He was working as a store security guard and shot Gendron, who returned fire and killed Salter
Ruth Witfield, 86, the mother of former Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Witfield was also killed in the murder spree
Classmates said that Buffalo shooter Payton Gendron, 18, pictured here acted strangely at times and espoused extremist views on politics
Payton Gendron is arrested Saturday after killing 10 people at a Tops Market supermarket in Buffalo, Upstate New York. Police say the massacre was motivated by the 18 year-old’s hatred for black people. Eleven of those shot were African-American
Gendron shot four people outside the store, three fatally, the commissioner said. He then went into the supermarket where he exchanged gunfire with Salter. The ex-cop shot at him multiple times but the bullets hit the shooter’s body arm and left him unfazed, the commissioner said.
Gendron then killed killed Salter.
A further six victims are believed to have been shot dead inside.
Salter’s son, Aaron Salter Jr., hailed his father for trying to stop the maniac gunman.
‘Today is a shock,’ he told the Daily Beast. ‘I’m pretty sure he saved some lives today. He’s a hero.’
The killings were broadcast live on streaming site Twitch, although the clip was removed within two minutes of its posting.
Ruth Whitfield, the 86-year-old mother of retired Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell W. Witfield, was also killed during the shooting spree.
‘My mom was the consummate mom. mother was a mother to the motherless. She was a blessing to all of us. She loved God and taught us to do the same thing,’ the former commissioner told the Buffalo News.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul blasted Gendron’s ‘demented’ killings and called for a crackdown on social media firms, who she said effectively acted as an ‘accomplice’ by letting mass-shooters like Gendron glorify their crimes.
President Joe Biden expressed his condolences to the families who lost loved-ones in the attack and denounced the white supremacy as ‘repugnant.’
‘Tonight, we grieve for the families of ten people whose lives were senselessly taken and everyone who is suffering the physical and emotional wounds of this horrific shooting,’ Biden said. ‘A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation. Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America. Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.’
‘This was pure evil, it was straight up a racially motivated hate crime,’ the Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said.
Eleven of the 13 victims were black.
The suspected gunman, seen here, killed ten people and wounded three others in a Buffalo supermarket
‘This is the worst nightmare that any community can face, and we are hurting and we are seething right now,’ Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference. ‘The depth of pain that families are feeling and that all of us are feeling right now cannot even be explained.’
The young man drove hours from the white suburban town of Conklin, just outside Binghamton, to the scene of the massacre.
As the shooting unfolded, Gramaglia said, Buffalo police charged into the store and confronted the gunman in the vestibule.
‘At that point the suspect put the gun to his own neck. Buffalo police personnel – two patrol officers – talked the suspect into dropping the gun. He dropped the gun, took off some of his tactical gear, surrendered at that point. And he was led outside, put in a police car,’ he said.
The video of the arrest seen by DailyMail.com shows police cuffing the suspect and trying to get people away from the scene as several bodies lie motionless on the ground.
The gunman was carrying two rifles and wore a Kevlar helmet, seen here, body armor and carried two rifles
Officers in riot gear secure the crime scene after 13 people were shot, three fatally, inside a Buffalo supermarket
Heavily armed officer confer outside the Tops Friendly Supermarket located in a predominately black neighborhood just north of downtown Buffalo
Buffalo police department responded to the scene of a mass shooting that left 10 people dead and three wounded
‘A shooter, it’s a mass shooter type s***,’ one of the onlookers says as police and emergency responders detain the man in the military uniform.
‘Damn, look at him, a young boy,’ the onlooker adds as he comments on one of the bodies.
Police then instruct the onlookers to back up as they take control of the situation.
Hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews waited outside the police tape wondering what happened to family members who were inside the store.
‘We would like to know the status of my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was in there with her fiance, they separated and went to different aisles,’ she said. ‘A bullet barely missed him. He was able to hide in a freezer but he was not able to get to my aunt and does not know where she is. We just would like word either way if she’s OK.’
The shooting took place on Saturday at the Tops supermarket (pictured) at 1275 Jefferson Avenue, in Buffalo, New York. At least 10 people were shot
The gunman opened fire around 2.30pm on Saturday while livestreaming the shooting
Bystanders and shoppers gathered outside the supermarket where the shooting took place
The Buffalo Police Department said the shooter has been taken into custody
Officials speaking under the condition of anonymity cautioned the investigation was in its preliminary stages and that authorities hadn’t yet discerned a clear motive, but they are looking into racial animus a possibility.
The FBI is investigating the spree as a hate crime and a ‘case of racially motivated violent extremism,’ Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo field office Stephen Blodgett told the New York Times. The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York will also investigate the case.
The supermarket is located in a predominately black neighborhood, about 3 miles north of downtown Buffalo.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, according to Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley.
Eric County Executive Mark Polonczar confirmed that there had been a shooting in the area and that residents should stay away from the supermarket.
‘I have been advised of an active multiple shooting event at the Tops Markets on Jefferson Street in Buffalo,’ Poloncarz tweeted. ‘Police are on scene. Please stay away from the area.’
New York Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was ‘closely monitoring the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo,’ which is her hometown. She said the state has offered assistance to local officials.
Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the shooter was exiting.
They described him as a white male in his late teens or early twenties sporting full camo, a black helmet and what appeared to be a rifle.
‘He was standing there with the gun to his chin. We were like what the heck is going on? Why does this kid have a gun to his face?’ Kephart said.
‘He dropped to his knees. He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun, and was tackled by the police.’
Police and emergency vehicles arrived quickly on the scene and pushed everyone back
Will G., a frozen dairy worker at the supermarket, said he walked out of the cooler to stock milk when the shooting occurred.
‘I just heard shots. Shots and shots and shots,’ he told Buffalo News. ‘It sounded like things were falling over.’
He added that he hid in the cooler and that more people joined him to take shelter from the gunfire.
‘I hid. I just hid,’ he said. I wasn’t going to leave that room.’
Police officials and a spokesperson for the supermarket chain did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The surrounding area is primarily residential, with a Family Dollar store and fire station near the store.
Police closed off the block, lined by spectators, and yellow police tape surrounded the full parking lot. Mayor Byron Brown was at the scene late Saturday afternoon and expected to address the media.
The shooting came little more than a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Soopers grocery in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people.
Investigators have not released any information about why they believe the man charged in that attack targeted the supermarket.
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