Federal law enforcement authorities are investigating whether a retired federal agent may have had advance notice regarding the intentions of the man who has been accused of murdering 10 people in cold blood at a Buffalo, New York grocery store earlier this month.
It is believed that the retired agent was among a group of individuals who regularly communicated online with the alleged shooter – 18-year-old Payton Gendron – in an online chat room where racist discussions regularly took place and that he shared his evil plans with them 30 minutes before leaving for the Tops Supermarket.
According to a report from the Buffalo News which cites “two law enforcement officials,” the retired federal agent who is believed to be from Texas was reportedly included among those who were invited to view Gendron’s plans although it is not clear whether he accepted the invitation.
“These were like-minded people who used this chat group to talk about their shared interests in racial hatred, replacement theory and hatred of anyone who is Jewish, a person of color or not of European ancestry,” one of the unnamed law enforcement officials told the Buffalo News. “What is especially upsetting is that these six people received advanced notice of the Buffalo shooting, about 30 minutes before it happened,”
“The FBI has verified that none of these people called law enforcement to warn them about the shooting. The FBI database shows no advance tips from anyone that this shooting was about to happen,” the outlet reported.
Gendron drove over 200 miles to the predominantly black neighborhood that was the site of the massacre which he live-streamed. The question now is whether anyone who may have been aware of his plans could have informed law enforcement and prevented it.
“If he had advance notice, he had a moral obligation to get on the phone and try to notify someone about it,” said John V. Elmore, a Buffalo civil rights attorney who is representing the family of one of the victims, suggesting that it would be an outrage if a former federal agent had knowledge and did not contact the authorities.
FBI agents are “in the process of tracking down and interviewing the six people, including the retired agent, and attempting to determine if any of them should be charged as accomplices,” the two sources with “close knowledge of the probe” told the outlet. “The two sources did not identify the agent by name and could not confirm what federal agency he worked for.”
“Federal authorities are investigating if the retired agent provided information to Gendron before he went on his shooting spree, the two law enforcement officials told The News,” the outlet reported. “In addition to law enforcement sources, two other individuals with knowledge of the mass shooting investigation have also confirmed that federal authorities are looking into the former agent’s relationship to the shooter.”
The FBI is also working on identifying an individual who is mentioned multiple times in Gendron’s diary that he posted to the social media app Discord 30 minutes prior to the attack, the outlet reports citing the sources, an individual whom the accused killer refers to as “Sandman” and “Saint Sandman” in his lengthy screed.
According to the Buffalo News, “In the diary, Gendron indicates Sandman counseled him on manufacturers of AR-15 semi-automatic rifles and their quality. The shooter purchased and allegedly used that type of assault rifle in the rampage, which local authorities have said was fueled by his racial hatred.”
“In a passage dated May 2, he quoted Saint Sandman as saying: ‘When the time finally comes to deal decisively with a whole host of society’s problems, and not go to prison for it, you’ll know. Just be ready. You have spent your entire life, from the day you were born, right up to this very moment, reading this sentence, coming to where you are right now. Look around you. Are you content with where you are right now? Are you where you want to be? If so, continue to march. If not, what are you going to do? What’s your plan? Get and keep your mind, body, and spirit right. Pray. Lift. Run. Read. Shoot. And teach your kids to do those things,’” the outlet reported.
It is unclear whether the feds believe that the retired agent is Sandman.
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