The revelation raised questions as to whether his encounter with the police and the psychiatric system was another missed opportunity to subject a potential mass shooter to closer scrutiny by law enforcement, get him help, or ensure he didn’t have access to deadly firearms.
Authorities said Sunday they are investigating the attack on mostly black shoppers and workers at Tops Friendly Market as a potential hate crime or act of domestic terrorism.
Payton Gendron, 18, traveled about 200 miles from his home in Conklin, New York, to Buffalo to commit the attack, police said.
Federal authorities were still working to confirm the authenticity of a racist 180-page document allegedly authored by Gendron, which said the attack was aimed at terrorizing all non-white, non-Christian people and leading them to to leave the country.
Law enforcement officials revealed Sunday that New York State Police officers were called to Gendron’s high school last June to report that Gendron, then 17, had made threatening statements.
Gendron threatened a shooting at Susquehanna Valley High School in Conklin, New York, around the time of the conclusion, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The officer was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Gendron had no further contact with law enforcement after a psychiatric evaluation that took him to a hospital for a day and a half.
“No one called,” he said. “Nobody called complaints,” Gramaglia said. The threat is “general,” he said, and not related to race.
New York is one of several states that have passed “red flag” laws in recent years in an attempt to prevent mass shootings committed by people who display warning signs that they pose a threat to themselves or others others could represent.
These laws allow law enforcement officers, a person’s family, or in some cases, medical professionals or school officials to request courts to temporarily confiscate a person’s firearms or prevent them from purchasing guns.
Federal law bans people from owning a gun if a judge has determined they have a “mental defect” or they have been forced into a mental institution — but an assessment alone would not trigger the ban.
SEE MORE: 10 dead in Buffalo, NY in shooting at supermarket police, calls hate crime
It’s unclear if officers were able to invoke the “red flag” legislation after the Susquehanna Valley High School incident. Police and prosecutors declined to provide details of the incident or when Gendron bought the weapons used in the attack.
The long list of mass shootings in the US with missed opportunities to act includes the 2018 massacre of 17 students at a high school in Parkland, Florida, where law enforcement officials had received numerous complaints about the gunman’s threats, and the killing of more than two dozen People at a Texas church in 2017 by a former US Air Force soldier who was able to purchase a gun despite a violent history.
Victims of Saturday’s attack in Buffalo included an 86-year-old woman who had just visited her husband at a nursing home, a man who bought a cake for his grandson, a church deacon who helped people ship their groceries home bring, and a security guard from a supermarket.
The shooter livestreamed the attack on Twitch, prompting an investigation into how quickly social platforms respond to violent videos.
President Joe Biden planned to visit Buffalo on Tuesday.
Gendron surrendered to the police, who confronted him in the supermarket lobby. He was later charged with murder on Saturday. Relatives did not respond to messages.
A lengthy online statement attributed to Gendron outlined a racist ideology rooted in the belief that the United States should belong only to whites.
Portions of the Twitch video circulated online showed the shooter killing several shoppers in less than a minute. At one point he points his gun at a white person crouching behind a register but says “Sorry!” and don’t shoot.
Screenshots said to be from the show appear to show a racial slur aimed at black people scrawled on his rifle.
Authorities said he shot a total of 11 blacks and two whites on Saturday.
“This person came here with the express purpose of taking the lives of as many black people as possible,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference on Sunday.
Associated Press reporters Robert Bumsted in Buffalo, Michael Hill in Albany, New York, Travis Loller in Nashville, and Jake Bleiberg in Dallas contributed coverage. Balsamo reported from Washington.
Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
https://abc13.com/payton-gendron-shooting-buffalo-shooter-ny/11856394/ Payton Gendron shooting: 18-year-old former school threat, hospitalized after 10 dead in Buffalo, NY