Suspect in Buffalo supermarket shooting has already been investigated for violent threat

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Buffalo Police at the scene of a Tops Friendly Market on May 14, 2022 in Buffalo, New York.

John Normile | Getty Images

the An 18-year-old man suspected killing 10 people and injuring three others in Buffalo, New Yorksupermarket on Saturday had already been investigated for making a violent statement.

Payton Gendron was investigated by New York State Police last year for making a threatening statement in June when he was a minor, a law enforcement official said. laws. The threat was to want to shoot, according to another senior law enforcement official.

A state police spokesperson, who did not release a name to NBC News, said the subject of the investigation was taken to hospital for a mental health evaluation at the time. and had not been charged with a crime.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the suspect was assessed and released and no further charges have been filed.

“There was nothing on state police intelligence, nothing on FBI intelligence,” Gramaglia said at a news conference on Sunday.

He added that police are limited in the extent to which they can conduct investigations and in monitoring social media, saying not everything is a violation of the law.

Gramaglia said it would be a “long” investigation at the federal and local levels. He called the attack – in which 11 of the 13 people shot dead were black – a clear hate crime.

“The evidence we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime,” Gramaglia said. “It will be prosecuted as a hate crime. This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said at the press conference that the suspect had been investigated before she took office and she would be seeking answers about what happened.

“I fully understand First Amendment rights. I have no intention of encroaching on them,” Hochul said. “However, hate speech is not protected. … There are parameters if you are going to incite people to violence. It is not protected.”

Officials said the suspect streamed the attack on Twitch, a platform used by gamers to livestream while gaming. A Twitch spokesperson confirmed that the stream was taken down “less than two minutes after the violence began”.

The assault rifle used in the attack was purchased legally in New York, a senior law enforcement official said. A hunting rifle and a shotgun were also found at the scene.

In addition to the firearms, the suspect had several 30-round magazines on him, the official said. Ammunition magazines containing more than seven bullets were banned in New York State in 2013 as part of broader gun control legislation.

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