As we know, 18-year-old Payton Gendron went into a supermarket in Buffalo and killed 10 people and wounded several others. He posted a racist manifesto in which he talked about the great replacement theory. The NY Times reported on May 17 that Gendron had invited people in a chat room to preview his plans just before the attack:
About 30 minutes before he launched what investigators said was a long-planned massacre at a Buffalo supermarket, Payton S. Gendron invited a small group of people to join a chat room online.
Until that moment, the posts in the room on the chat application Discord had been visible only to Mr. Gendron, who had for months uploaded numerous pictures of himself, often posing with his gear and the weapon that officials say he used to carry out the shooting, even sharing hand-drawn maps of the Tops grocery store he openly said he planned to attack.
None of the people he invited to review his writings appeared to have alerted law enforcement, and the massacre played out much as Mr. Gendron envisioned.
Yesterday, the Buffalo News reported that one of the last people Gendron communicated with before the attack was a retired federal agent.
Authorities believe the former agent – believed to be from Texas – was one of at least six individuals who regularly communicated with accused gunman Payton Gendron in an online chat room where racist hatred was discussed, the two officials said.
The two law enforcement sources with direct knowledge of the investigation stated these individuals were invited by Gendron to read about his mass shooting plans and the target location about 30 minutes before Gendron killed 10 people at Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue on May 14…
“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,” said one of the two law enforcement officials with close knowledge of the investigation. “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 story doesn’t identify the retired officer or even mention which federal agency he worked for. The big caveat is that the Buffalo News can’t confirm that this agent was one of the people who accepted the invitation to view Gendron’s plans before the attack. Maybe he tuned out at that point. But obvious if he didn’t, if he knew the attack was about to happen and did nothing that would a serious failure on his part, ethically and morally if not legally.
Obviously if he were a current agent and failed to make a call about this that could be a career ender. But even as a retired agent you expect someone to a) not be hanging out in racist chatrooms and b) place a call to the FBI if someone makes a legitimate threat to murder people. A Buffalo civil rights attorney told the paper, “If he had advance notice, he had a moral obligation to get on the phone and try to notify someone about it.”