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Good Morning, Buffalo: Authorities investigating if retired federal agent knew of Buffalo mass shooting plans in advance

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May 27, 2022

Tops shooting aftermath (copy)

A police vehicle is parked at the Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo on May 15, a day after a gunman murdered 10 people and injured three others.

Authorities investigating if retired federal agent knew of Buffalo mass shooting plans in advance

Law enforcement officers are investigating whether a retired federal agent had about 30 minutes advance notice of a white supremacist's plans to murder Black people at a Buffalo supermarket, two law enforcement officials told The Buffalo News. 

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. 

The News could not determine if the retired agent 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,” 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.”

Agents from the FBI 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 Buffalo News.

– Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck 


As Tops shooting trauma lingers, questions about when – and where – the store will reopen

Tops Markets intends to repair and reopen its Jefferson Avenue store where 10 people were killed, three were injured and many were traumatized in a racially motivated mass shooting on May 14.

But what that reopening will look like and when it can occur are questions being asked by community stakeholders as Tops faces the daunting task of making over a store where dozens of bullets flew, leaving carnage inside and in the parking lot. 

John Persons, Tops president, said the company’s “commitment to the community has not changed,” even as some difficult decisions lay ahead.

Some members of the neighborhood believe it would be impossible to reopen a store in the same location without once again traumatizing employees and customers.

But others say renovating would be the quickest and least expensive way to return a much-needed supermarket to a neighborhood that lacks other full service grocery stores.

– Michael Petro 


Help is still needed: As our community mourns, food and daily essentials are still in short supply. Please consider supporting one of the many trusted organizations assisting the Jefferson Avenue community and all those affected by the tragic events of May 14. See how you can help.


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Enjoy the holiday weekend!

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