In an attack reminiscent of the 2019 El Paso Walmart shooting and allegedly drawing inspiration from the New Zealand mosque attacks, a gunman opened fire on supermarket patrons today in what authorities said was an act of racially motived violent extremism — ideology detailed in a manifesto purportedly authored by the gunman.
Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, N.Y., allegedly drove about 200 miles to a Tops grocery store in Buffalo and initially opened fire on people in the parking lot before entering the store and continuing to shoot. Ten people were killed and three were wounded. One of the deceased was a retired police officer who was employed as a store security guard; officials said he fired at the shooter but the round did not penetrate the shooter’s body armor.
The shooting was livestreamed via a helmet camera on Twitch, which promptly removed the video. The livestream began with the shooter pulling into the grocery store parking lot and initially pulling into a space far from the store, then declaring to himself that he “just got to go for it” and driving the car to the front of the store, stopping, and grabbing a gun on the passenger floorboard before exiting and first shooting a woman who was walking parallel to the storefront. As he began shooting, one could see the number “14” written in white on the rifle, a potential reference to the “14 words” white supremacist slogan.
In a 180-page manifesto posted online in conjunction with the attack, the author identifies himself as Gendron and calls himself a populist, fascist, white supremacist, antisemite, and racist while detailing his belief in the “white genocide” anti-immigrant conspiracy theory. He said that he is enrolled at SUNY Broome Community College majoring in engineering science — the college said he was formerly enrolled — and has no previous military training “so excuse any mistakes I make during my attack.”
The document is largely packed with anti-Black and antisemitic memes, links, and conspiracy theories, complaining about “empty nurseries, full casinos, empty churches and full mosques,” calling for the assassination of “your local anti-white CEO” and railing against gun control while declaring that “the radicalization of young Western men is not just unavoidable, but inevitable.” A lengthy section discusses tactical gear, weapons, and ammunition. A small section praises eco-fascism, claiming that “the left has controlled all discussion regarding environmental preservation whilst simultaneously presiding over the continued destruction of the natural environment itself through mass immigration and uncontrolled urbanization.”
The manifesto includes a Q&A section in which the author answers the question of whether “there a particular person that radicalized you the most.”
“Yes and his name is Brenton Harrison Tarrant. Brenton’s livestream started everything you see here,” the document states, citing the terrorist who attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019 and livestreamed the attack. “Brenton started my real research into the problems with immigration and foreigners in our White lands, without his livestream I would likely have no idea about the real problems the West is facing.”
The writer says he started “browsing 4chan in May 2020 after extreme boredom” and digested racist replacement theories “through infographics, shitposts, and memes,” adding that it was at 4chan’s /pol/ that he first saw a GIF of Tarrant’s attack. He said he then located and watched the full livestream and read Tarrant’s manifesto, then “found other fighters, like Patrick Crucius, Anders Breivek, Dylann Roof, and John Earnest.” The writer said he felt “awakened” and decided he “would follow Tarrant’s lead and the attacks of so many others like him.”
The manifesto goes into detail about the attack planning phase, stating that his goals were to “kill as many blacks as possible,” “avoid dying,” and “spread ideals.” The writer describes how he chose the Tops market: “Zip code 14208 in Buffalo has the highest black percentage that is close enough to where I live” and security guards not armed well enough to penetrate body armor. “I made a map of the inside and decided the best plan of attack for highest chance of success,” he added, including this sketch.
The shooting occurred at about 2:30 p.m. today, yet the manifesto suggests a different day/time was eyed for attack: “According to Google and independent study, 4:00 PM on Friday is the most populated time at Top’s,” he wrote.
The writer said he expected the attack to take about 4 minutes, then he planned to drive south on Jefferson Avenue and “shoot at blacks on the streets” and potentially attack “another decent location… example being Walmart” before his expected surrender to police.
“If I become old in the same prison I would only assume that we have passed the point of no return and will die out, and that I have failed,” the writer says of his expected fate. “If we do rise up against the replacers, I expect that I will be let out and honored amongst my people.”
Gendron was arraigned on first-degree murder charges this evening in Buffalo City Court, where he was represented by a public defender and pleaded not guilty. The FBI is investigating the attack as a hate crime.
The Buffalo News reported that Gendron was referred for a mental health evaluation and counseling after police were called to a local high school regarding statements he had made to fellow students about wanting to conduct a shooting at graduation or sometime after the ceremony.
The Department of Homeland Security said that Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “has been briefed on the situation in Buffalo,” and the agency “is actively coordinating with all relevant local, state, and federal agencies and will continue to provide the Department’s full support.”
In February, the latest National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin assessed that the converging factors of disinformation, persistent calls for violence against critical and often-soft targets, and recent calls by foreign terrorist organizations for attacks on the United States have “increased the volatility, unpredictability, and complexity” of the threat landscape.
The bulletin reiterated assessments previously and frequently expressed by federal law enforcement and homeland security officials that the “primary terrorism-related threat to the United States continues to stem from lone offenders or small cells of individuals who are motivated by a range of foreign and/or domestic grievances often cultivated through the consumption of certain online content,” and stresses that “the convergence of violent extremist ideologies, false or misleading narratives, and conspiracy theories have and will continue to contribute to a heightened threat of violence in the United States.”
The bulletin said that calls for violence have been notably targeting “U.S. critical infrastructure; soft targets and mass gatherings; faith-based institutions, such as churches, synagogues, and mosques; institutions of higher education; racial and religious minorities; government facilities and personnel, including law enforcement and the military; the media; and perceived ideological opponents.” Violence against these locations or groups could stem from anti-government extremism, racially or religiously motivated extremism, and/or disinformation or conspiracy theories; for example, “COVID-19 mitigation measures—particularly COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates—have been used by domestic violent extremists to justify violence since 2020 and could continue to inspire these extremists to target government, healthcare, and academic institutions that they associate with those measures.”