“We found things that show he was here in early March, and again we know he was here on Friday, basically doing reconnaissance in the area,” Gramaglia told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “He was in the store, Friday and Saturday.”
The suspect, from the town of Conklin, about 200 miles away, opened fire at the Tops Friendly Markets store in a predominantly black neighborhood on Saturday, shooting 13 people before surrendering to police.
The commissioner said he could not say if the suspect was at the store in March, but in social media posts, the accused shooter revealed he visited the store on March 8 and spent months planning his attack.
The suspect, Payton S. Gendron, wrote in Discord posts that were shared on the hate-filled online forum 4Chan that he entered the store at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. during his visit in March. . He wrote that on his way home from his home in Broome County he received a speeding ticket.
Gendron noted in his message the activity taking place inside the market, such as the number of blacks and whites who were there. He also drew a map showing the aisles of the store, the pharmacy, the bakery and the exit points from the building.
Gendron wrote that on his last reconnaissance visit he was approached by a “black armed security guard” who said, “I saw you come in and out…What are you doing?” The suspect wrote that he told the security guard he was collecting “consensus data”, for which the security guard said he needed to speak to the manager.
“I asked his name and he told me and I immediately forgot, then I said goodbye and thank you and went back to my car,” Gendron wrote. “Looking back, it was a close call.”
In a post, Gendron wrote on March 10, “I’m gonna have to kill that security guard in Tops, hope he doesn’t kill me or even hurt me instantly.”
He added that the attack would take place on March 15, but ended up pushing back the date several times.
Gendron also considered attacking a church or an elementary school before settling on a supermarket, he writes.
Suspect planned to shoot people at other sites, sheriff says
After the shooting, he exited the building and surrendered to the police. Police said on Monday he intended to kill more black people if police did not arrive.
“There was evidence that was uncovered that he had plans, if he got out of here, to continue his rampage and to continue shooting people,” Gramaglia told CNN. “He had even talked about possibly going to another store.”
The suspect had other “target locations” down the street from the supermarket, according to Erie County Sheriff John Garcia. Authorities found another rifle and a shotgun in his vehicle, the sheriff told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“He wasn’t going to end the murder of as many black people as possible,” Garcia said. He credited the quick arrival of two police officers with preventing further attacks.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown on Monday praised the heroism of the guard, as well as the quick response of the police.
“Many more people likely would have been killed and injured had the Buffalo police not arrived on the scene so quickly,” Brown said. “They were able to subdue the shooter, they were able to take him into custody without incident and protect the surrounding neighborhood.”
The suspect has a hearing Thursday, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said. He also said a request for a forensic mental health examination was withdrawn by the suspect’s attorney.
Suspect reportedly wrote 180 pages outlining his beliefs
“We continue to investigate this matter as a hate crime, a federal hate crime, and a crime perpetrated by a racially motivated violent extremist,” Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo field office, said Sunday. conference.
Federal prosecutors are expected to file charges against the suspect in the coming days, law enforcement officials told CNN on Monday.
The Buffalo suspect wrote that he began planning the attack in earnest in January. The author of the document also writes that he targeted this Buffalo neighborhood because it is in a ZIP code that “has the highest percentage of black people that is close enough to where I live.”
Indeed, the zip code that includes the store, 14208, is 78% black, the highest percentage of a black population in any upstate New York zip code, according to the survey. of 2020 on the American community of the US Census Bureau. The shooting suspect is from the town of Conklin, New York, a three and a half hour drive from Buffalo near the Pennsylvania border.
The document also says the suspect purchased the primary gun he used, a Bushmaster XM-15, from a gun store before “illegally modifying it.”
“We are obviously going through (the document) with a fine-tooth comb and reviewing it for all the evidence,” prosecutor Flynn told CNN.
Video shows shooter pointing gun at man but not shooting
CNN obtained video recorded inside the store showing the alleged shooter pointing his rifle at a person on the ground but not shooting them.
The video is taken from the shooter’s point of view, after he shot several people. In it, the shooter turns the gun on a man who is curled up on the ground near what looks like a crate lane.
“Nope!” shouts the man on the ground.
The shooter says “Sorry”, then turns away and continues walking down the cash register aisle.
The video ends at this point and it is unclear what happened next.
It’s unclear why the man was apparently spared or why the shooter said “sorry.”
A suspect made a ‘disturbing’ threat last year
A year ago, the suspect landed on police radar while a student at Susquehanna Valley High School, officials said.
He made a “disturbing” reference to the murder-suicide via a virtual learning platform in June, the Susquehanna Valley Central School District said Monday. Although the threat was not specific and did not implicate other students, the instructor immediately notified an administrator who escalated the matter to the New York State Police, a spokesperson told CNN, adding that the law limits what school officials can say.
Concerns arose after the suspect turned in a high school project on murder-suicides, which led to a state police investigation, said Garcia, the sheriff.
“State police arrived at his house this time last year,” he said. “He stayed in a facility – I don’t know if it was a hospital or a mental health facility – for a day and a half.”
State police investigated an unnamed 17-year-old student who made “a threatening statement” in June in high school, they confirmed. The student was taken into custody and in hospital for an evaluation of his mental health.
CNN’s Jenn Selva, Steve Almasy, David Williams, Jamiel Lynch, Dakin Andone, Samantha Beech, Haley Burton, Chuck Johnston, Sarah Jorgensen, Artemis Moshtaghian, Nicki Brown, Laura Ly, Shimon Prokupecz, Liam Reilly, Polo Sandoval, Brian Todd, Casey Tolan, Emma Tucker, Amir Vera and Holly Yan contributed to this report.