Payton Gendron, 18, threatened to shoot up Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna High School last year around graduation
A teenaged gunman who allegedly murdered 10 people in a ‘racist hate crime‘ at a supermarket in upstate New York was not on law enforcement’s radar despite having made a school shooting threat last year.
Payton Gendron, 18, who surrendered to police at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo on Saturday after firing a barrage of 50 shots at the store, underwent a mental health evaluation last summer after he threatened to open fire at his high school.
Police were called to Gendron’s high school in Conklin, New York, located near the Pennsylvania border, on June 8, 2021 after he made a threatening statement, authorities revealed during a press conference Sunday.
‘The state police responded. They investigated. They interviewed the subject. And they felt at the time it was appropriate to have that individual brought in for a mental health evaluation,’ Buffalo police commissioner Joseph Gramaglia explained.
Gramaglia said the threat was not racist and not directed at a specific person or place. However, an unnamed law enforcement source told The Associated Press Gendron, then-17, had threatened to shoot up Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna High School around graduation.
The teen underwent a mental health evaluation and, after spending a day-and-a-half in the hospital, was released. Gramaglia said that after his release, Gendron had no further contact with law enforcement.
‘Nobody called in,’ the police commissioner said. ‘Nobody called any complaints.’
New York Governor Kathy Hochul told ABC News on Sunday that an investigation would focus on what could have been done to stop Gendron, since he had advertised his views online and had been on authorities’ radar.
‘I want to know what people knew, and when they knew it,’ she said, adding the probe would be ‘calling upon our law enforcement as well as our social media platforms.’
Gendron, of Conklin, NY, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder following Saturday’s attack. He is being held without bail and faces life in prison.
Police believe he planned the attack for months before driving three hours to Buffalo to carry out the vile ambush that authorities are calling an act of ‘violent extremism’ motivated by race.
‘The evidence that we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime,’ Gramaglia said, CNN reported. ‘This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind.’
The alleged killer, who is due back in court on Thursday, is currently on suicide watch and is being held in a separate unit from other inmates, the sheriff of Erie County, John Garcia, said at the news conference Sunday.
President Joe Biden will travel to Buffalo on Tuesday to meet with the families of mass shooting victims, the White House confirmed to CNN. The president also issued condolences to the families on Sunday and said he was receiving regular updates from his team about the massacre.
‘We’re still gathering the facts, but already, the Justice Department has stated publicly that it’s investigating the matter as a hate crime, racially-motivated act of white supremacy and violent extremism. As they do, we must all work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America. Our hearts are heavy once again, but our resolve must never waver,’ Biden said.
Gendron allegedly murdered 10 people in a ‘racist hate crime ‘ at a supermarket in Buffalo, NY on Saturday. People are scene outside the store after the shooting
uffalo police commissioner Joseph Gramaglia revealed during a press conference Sunday that Gendron had previously made a non-specific shooting threat while in high school
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is said on Sunday that an investigation would focus on what could have been done to stop Gendron, since he had advertised his views online and had been on authorities’ radar
Authorities said Gendron drove to Buffalo from his home several hours away to launch the attack, which he broadcast in real time on social media platform Twitch, a live video service owned by Amazon.com.
He then opened fire at the Tops grocery store using a gun that he legally purchased but had illegally modified a high-capacity magazine.
Law enforcement personnel searched the accused gunman’s Conklin home on Sunday, as well as a shed on the property.
Pictures taken at the scene show FBI agents collecting and photographing evidence from the property.
Federal agents also interviewed Gendron’s parents, Paul and Pamela, on Sunday, a law enforcement official – who asked to remain anonymous – confirmed.
Paul and Pamela are cooperating with investigators, the official alleged.
FBI agents are seen photographing evidence at Gendron’s home in Conklin, NY on Sunday
A bicycle and lawn mower are removed from the shed at Gendron’s home while authorities execute their search warrant on Sunday
Law enforcement personnel searched the accused gunman’s Conklin home on Sunday, as well as a shed on the property.
The governor said she was dismayed that the suspect managed to live-stream his attack on social media, which she blamed for hosting a ‘feeding frenzy’ of violent extremist ideology.
‘The CEOs of those companies need to be held accountable and assure all of us that they’re taking every step humanly possible to be able to monitor this information,’ she told ABC News. ‘How these depraved ideas are fermenting on social media, it’s spreading like a virus now.
Hochul also slammed Twitch for allowing a ‘military-style execution’ and ‘the massacre of innocent people’ to be ‘viewed by other people.’
‘There’s not enough monitoring because clearly this information was out there. Don’t they have a responsibility? I know it’s a huge, vast undertaking, but these companies have a lot of money. They have resources. They have technology. Key words show up, they need to be identified, someone needs to watch this, and to shut it down the second it appears,’ she said. ‘And short of that, we will protect the right to free speech, but there is a limit. There is a limit to what you can do and hate crime is not – hate speech is not protected.’
Social media and streaming platforms like Twitch, which said it removed the stream after less than two minutes, have grappled with controlling violent and extremist content for years.
‘The user has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content,’ a Twitch spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE VICTIMS KILLED IN BUFFALO SUPERMARKET SHOOTING
- Aaron Salter, 75, retired Buffalo police officer who worked as a security guard at the supermarket
- Ruth Whitfield, 86, mother of former Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield was shopping for groceries
- Katherine Massey was at the supermarket to pick up groceries
- Pearly Young, 77, fed needy residents in Buffalo’s Central Park neighborhood for 25 years
- Celestine Chaney, 65, a breast cancer survivor, was at the supermarket because she wanted to buy strawberries for shortcake
- Roberta Drury, 32, was at the store to buy groceries for dinner
- Heyward Patterson often give people rides to and from the supermarket and would help them carry their groceries
Police said Sunday they are investigating a 180-page manifesto that Gendron reportedly posted before going on his rampage that included a plan to drive several counties away to carry out the shooting at the Tops Friendly Market.
Gendron identified himself as a white supremacist in the document as he explained his fears white people are being replaced by other races. A preliminary investigation found Gendron had repeatedly visited sites espousing white supremacist ideologies and race-based conspiracy theories and extensively researched the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the man who killed dozens at a summer camp in Norway in 2011, the official said.
It wasn’t immediately clear why Gendron had traveled about 200 miles to Buffalo and that particular grocery store, but investigators believe Gendron had specifically researched the demographics of the population around the grocer and had been searching for communities with a high number of black residents.
Police said Gendron, wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera, shot, in total, 11 black people and two white people in Saturday’s rampage before surrendering to authorities. Screenshots purporting to be from the Twitch broadcast appear to show a racial epithet scrawled on the rifle used in the attack, as well as the number 14, a likely reference to a white supremacist slogan.
Officials said the rifle Gendron used in the attack was purchased legally but the magazines he used for ammunition were not allowed to be sold in New York.
Robert Donald, the owner of Vintage Firearms in Endicott, N.Y., told the New York Times on Sunday that he recently sold a Bushmaster assault weapon to the man accused of the massacre.
Donald, 75, who primarily sells collectible firearms, said the teen bought the gun without leaving an impression and was shocked when he got a call from investigators regarding Gendron.
Buffalo community members create a make-shift memorial outside the Tops Friendly Market in honor of the 10 people killed by Gendron during Saturday’s massacre
Police say the rambling text of a 180-page manifesto that Payton Gendron (pictured here) posted included a plan of the attack which detailed driving several counties away to carry out the rampage the Tops Friendly Market
Seven of of the victims have been named by family members by Sunday, including security guard Aaron Salter – a retired Buffalo police officer – who fired multiple shots at Gendron. A bullet hit the gunman’s armor, but had no effect. Gendron then killed Salter, before hunting more victims.
Shopper Ruth Whitfield, an 86-year-old grandmother, who is also the mother of former Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield, and Katherine Massey, who had gone to the store to pick up some groceries, were also was killed, according to Buffalo News.
Pearly Young, 77, who fed needy residents in Buffalo’s Central Park neighborhood for 25 years, was shot and killed during the massacre, reporter Madison Carter tweeted.
Celestine Chaney, 65, who was at the supermarket to buy strawberries for shortcake, was killed during the shooting, her son, Wayne Jones, 48, confirmed.
Roberta Drury, 32, was at the store to buy groceries for dinner when she was fatally shot, her sister Amanda Drury, 34, said.
Heyward Patterson, who would often give people rides to and from the supermarket and help them carry their groceries, was also among the 10 people fatally shot, according to Patterson’s great niece Teniqua Clark.
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
Pearly Young, 77, who fed needy residents in Buffalo’s Central Park neighborhood for 25 years, was shot and killed Saturday
Roberta Drury, 32, who was killed in the shooting while she was shopping for dinner, was described as ‘very vibrant’ by her sister Amanda. ‘She always was the center of attention and made the whole room smile and laugh’
A law enforcement personnel stands outside the home of Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect Payton Gendron in Conklin, New York a day after the teen allegedly went on a deadly rampage that killed 10 people
Payton Gendron, 18, who is accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday lives at this home in Conklin, New York with his parents
Federal agents interviewed the parents of Payton Gendron, the teenager accused of firing a barrage of 50 shots at the supermarket that killed 10 people, a law enforcement official said on Sunday
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.