Store guard confronted Buffalo suspect during visit in March, online account says
Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old accused of killing 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, has recorded increasingly detailed plans to murder dozens of black people in statements posted online over the past six months, according to numerous message logs by a writer who identified himself as Gendron.
A Washington Post review of more than 600 newspaper pages found that Gendron decided in December to kill those he insulted as “replacements” and decided in February to target the Buffalo’s Tops store based on his local African-American population. In March, he made a reconnaissance-type trip to monitor the store’s security and map its aisles, according to the newspapers. When a store attendant confronted him to explain why he had repeatedly walked in that day, Gendron made excuses and fled in what he described as “a close call,” according to newspapers.
After identifying the supermarket as ‘Attack Zone 1’, Gendron detailed two additional Buffalo locations as areas to ‘shoot all blacks’ in, according to logs, which showed he had plotted routes to each location. , calculated the times needed for each shooting and estimated that more than three dozen people in total could be shot and killed.
Police confirmed Monday that they suspected Gendron of planning to attack multiple locations. Also on Monday, FBI Director Christopher Wray, in a call with various law enforcement and community leaders, said, “I want to be clear, for my part, from all we know , it was a targeted attack, a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.
Gendron, of Conklin, NY, has pleaded not guilty to first degree murder in connection with Saturday’s attack. Three other people were also injured before Gendron was arrested at the grocery store. Police said they are investigating the shooting, which was broadcast live, as a racially motivated hate crime. In a separate 180-page document released two days before Saturday’s shooting, Gendron cited a racist plot to bring non-whites into the United States to replace whites for political purposes.
The 672-page compilation of message logs reviewed by The Post were published in the weeks leading up to the Buffalo attack. The diaries were written by an author who identified himself as Gendron, featured a screen name that Gendron used on other platforms, contained images of Gendron’s face in selfies, and referenced events in his life personal, like a speeding ticket, which The Post verified.
The logs were posted as a collected archive of Gendron’s posts since November on Discord, an online messaging platform where users can create invite-only discussion groups. The original messages posted to Discord by Gendron’s account were not publicly available, and the company did not respond to questions Monday about how many people may have seen his messages before the shooting.
In a previous statement regarding other Discord messages apparently posted by Gendron, the company said, “We express our deepest condolences to the victims and their families, and we will do all we can to assist law enforcement in the ‘investigation.”
Along with setting up timelines for a mass shooting, the diaries are a wide-ranging diary of a troubled 18-year-old, who described killing and maiming a cat and being taken to a medical facility. for psychiatric evaluation after he said in a high school class that he planned to commit “murder/suicide”.
The June 2021 incident has been referred to New York State Police, according to a person familiar with school management, who spoke anonymously to discuss confidential matters involving a student. Gendron wrote in the message logs that the case was dropped when he said he had joked to get out of class, an account confirmed by the person familiar with school management.
“That’s why I believe I can still buy guns,” Gendron wrote. “It wasn’t a joke, I wrote that because that’s what I intended to do.”
In mid-November, according to the newspapers, Gendron posted on Discord a copy of a document posted by Brenton Tarrant, an outspoken racist who killed 51 Muslims in attacks on two mosques in New Zealand in 2019. , Gendron claimed authorship of an anonymous Nov. 9 post on the 4chan message board, a site notorious for extremist discussions, which read “a brenton tarrant event will happen again soon.”
After publishing allegations about “inferior” races, according to newspapers, Gendron wrote on Dec. 5 that he had decided it was time to stop just posting on the internet and take action. “I will lead an attack against the substitutes, and I will even broadcast the attack live,” he wrote.
Around this time, according to the logs, he bought a Mossberg 500 shotgun. He already owned a shotgun which he received as a Christmas present from his father when he was 16, according to the message logs. . Efforts to contact Gendron’s parents were unsuccessful.
Gendron recounted making frequent trips to gun stores in the message logs, recording at least 15 visits to six stores between December 8 and January 19. He hid guns and ammunition in his bedroom at his parents’ home, according to the newspapers, and at one point feared his mother would discover the stockpile, jeopardizing his plans.
According to the newspapers and the store owner, Gendron purchased a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle — the type of weapon reportedly used in Buffalo on Saturday — from Vintage Firearms in Endicott, NY, in January.
The post details Gendron’s purchases of other gear he planned to use in an attack, including a military-style helmet from eBay and body armor plates bought online from RMA. Armament of Centerville, Iowa. Confirming the purchase of Gendron, RMA general manager Blake Waldrop said in a statement that the company was “devastated by this tragedy” and prayed for the families of the victims in Buffalo.
Having considered attacking in other cities, including Rochester, Gendron wrote online Feb. 17 that he had a “new plan”: Buffalo, which had a higher proportion of black residents. “TOPS Friendly Markets,” he wrote, “sounds damn good.”
The logs detailed a March 8 trip to the supermarket during which Gendron allegedly monitored the movements of store security guards and made observations about the weapons they were carrying. Detailed sketches of the store’s floor plan were included in the logs, along with several photographs, including a parking space “for the attack”.
The written account says its perpetrator was arrested and ticketed for driving 64 miles per hour on a 40 mph stretch of State Highway 36 en route to Buffalo on March 8. The Post obtained a copy of a speeding ticket issued to Gendron by a New York State Cavalier that day that matches those details.
Inside the supermarket, Gendron noted, there were “lots of black people” in the cashier area and other places. A total of 53 blacks and six whites were inside the store, he wrote, along with two black security guards carrying what he said were Glock pistols.
Gendron said he was confronted by one of the guards after entering the store three times that day.
“I saw you come in and out…what are you doing?” the guard asked him, according to the newspapers. Gendron responded that he was “collecting consensus data” before making excuses and heading to his car, he wrote, adding, “Looking back, it was a close call.” Authorities said a security guard shot the shooter in Saturday’s attack in Buffalo, but the suspect was protected by a body armor and allegedly returned fire, killing the guard.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a Monday news conference that investigators learned the suspect was in the Buffalo area in early March.
Gendron reported in the newspapers that between visits to Tops that day, he suffered a panic attack while driving and crashed his car into a pole, knocking out one of its side mirrors. Despite the setbacks, however, Gendron seems satisfied with the trip. “Overall I had a great full day,” he wrote.
On March 26, however, Gendron feared that his entire plan had been “jeopardized” after notice of his speeding ticket from the trip to Buffalo arrived at his parents’ home. “(N)now my dad knows I was hours away doing something I shouldn’t have,” he wrote, adding that he wished he was ready and able to lead the attack immediately. He later added that he falsely claimed to his father that he had skipped school to hike in a state park.
At the end of March, Gendron thought about other sectors that he could attack, such as churches or schools with a black majority. “I would consider breaking into an elementary school in Buffalo, but these places are locked tight and I have a weird feeling thinking of (sic) butchering (sic) children,” he wrote.
At times, Gendron displayed the apparent lack of interest in him by law enforcement. “(H)mm I wonder why the FBI isn’t attacking me right now? probably because they want it to happen,” he wrote in an April 28 post that included images of a shotgun and shotgun. An FBI spokesperson told the Post that the bureau was unaware of Gendron before the Buffalo shooting.
The following evening, the first episode of Gendron’s online messages was uploaded to the MediaFire file-sharing platform by an anonymized account in the United States. The document was available for download until Monday morning but was removed after The Post contacted MediaFire for comment.
Derek Labian, chief executive of MediaFire, said in an interview that the account associated with the document had been disabled and its recordings kept for law enforcement.
On May 12, a second batch of messages that were allegedly posted on Discord were also uploaded to MediaFire. “That’s where I’ll end up, thanks for the fun,” he concluded.
Two days later, a gunman arrived at Tops in Buffalo and opened fire.
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Mark Berman of The Washington Post contributed to this report.