The white gunman charged with the massacre of 10 black people in a Buffalo supermarket wrote as early as November about staging a live attack on African Americans. He also practiced shooting from his car and traveled for hours from his home to scout the store in March, according to detailed diary entries he appears to have posted online.
The newspaper writer published hand-drawn maps of the grocery store along with the number of black people he counted there, and recounted how a black security guard at the supermarket confronted him that day to ask him what he was doing. A black security guard was among the dead in Saturday’s rampage.
The log, taken from the Discord chat platform, was revealed two days after 18-year-old Payton Gendron allegedly opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at Tops Friendly Market. He wore a bulletproof vest and used a helmet camera to livestream the shootings to the internet, authorities said.
He went inside the supermarket and was charged with murder over the weekend. He pleaded not guilty and was jailed on suicide watch. Federal authorities are considering bringing hate crime charges.
Copies of the online material were shared with The Associated Press by Marc-André Argentino, a researcher at the London-based International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence.
A transcript was apparently released publicly some time before the attack. It was unclear how many people might have seen the log entries. Experts said it was possible but unlikely that the diary could have been edited by anyone other than the author.
Buffalo FBI lead agent Stephen Belongia said in a call with other officials on Monday that investigators were looking into Gendron’s Discord activity, citing posts last summer about body armor and body armor. firearms and others last month in which he taunted federal authorities.
Belongia gave no details in the call, but in an April 17 message, apparently from Gendron, he urged readers to kill FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents.
Messages seeking comment were left for Gendron’s lawyers. No one answered the door of the family home.
The online diary details a March 8 reconnaissance visit the writer made to Buffalo, about 200 miles (320 km) from Gendron’s home in Conklin, New York.
Joseph Gramaglia, the Buffalo Police Commissioner, told a news conference there was information indicating Gendron was in Buffalo in March, but he declined to elaborate. The commissioner said many investigators were working to obtain and review Gendron’s online postings.
“There are a lot of social networks that are scrutinized, or verified, captured,” Gramaglia said. “Part of that involves warrants that need to be served on various social media platforms.”
The newspaper writer spoke about checking targets, including the Tops Friendly Market, and said a security guard asked him what he was doing after his second visit of the day. He gave an excuse about the data collection and quickly left – “a tight call”, he wrote.
A 180-page document allegedly written by Gendron said the attack was aimed at terrorizing all non-Christian ethnic minorities and driving them out of the country. Federal authorities said they are working to confirm the authenticity of the document.
Gendron had briefly been on authorities’ radar last spring when state police were called to his high school following a report that the 17-year-old had made threatening statements.
Belongia said Gendron responded to a question about his future plans by saying he wanted to commit a murder-suicide.
A December Discord post Gendron apparently posted said he gave this answer to a question about retirement in an economics class and ended up spending “one of the worst nights of my life” in a hospital. .
Gramaglia said Gendron had no further contact with law enforcement after an evaluation of his mental health. During the call with Belongia, Gramaglia said state police “did everything within the bounds of the law” at the time.
It was unclear whether authorities could have invoked New York’s ‘red flag’ rule, which allows law enforcement, school officials and families to ask a court to order the seizure of weapons fire to people considered dangerous.
Federal law prohibits people from owning firearms if a judge has determined they have a “mental defect” or were forcibly placed in a mental institution. A review alone would not trigger the ban.
At the White House, Joe Biden paid tribute to the deceased security guard, retired police officer Aaron Salter.
Salter shot the attacker repeatedly, hitting his armored vest at least once before being shot and killed. The president, who was scheduled to travel to Buffalo on Tuesday, said Salter “gave his life trying to save others.”
Authorities said that in addition to the 10 black people killed, three people were injured: one black man and two white people.