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Buffalo shooter may have had assistance, victims' lawyer says

Authorities probing whether retired federal agent, others knew of mass shooting in advance

Published: May 31, 2022 12:35pm

Updated: May 31, 2022 2:42pm

The suspect shooter in a mass-killing earlier this month in a Buffalo, New York, supermarket, may have had assistance, a victims' attorney said Tuesday.

Ten people were fatally shot in the racially motivated, May 14 attack.

"Based upon our deep dive into the digital background of the shooter, we have uncovered others tied to the shooter who may have encouraged or even assisted him," attorney Terrence M. Connors, whose is representing several families who lost a loved one, told Just the News.

While Connors wouldn't elaborate, his comments came a few days after the Buffalo News reported that authorities are investigating whether a retired federal agent had advanced notice of the mass shooting.

"As outrageous as this may sound, based upon what we are finding in our investigation, it is not surprising," Connors had told the Buffalo News.

Authorities think the former agent – believed to be from Texas – was one of at least six people who regularly communicated with accused gunman Payton Gendron in an online chat room in which racist hatred was discussed.

These individuals were invited by Gendron to read about his mass shooting plans and the target location about 30 minutes before he opened fire at Tops Markets killing 10 and wounded three others, law enforcement sources told the outlet.

That information appears to confirm a New York Times report from two weeks ago saying Gendron invited a small group of people to join an online chat room on the messaging platform Discord to review his plans about 30 minutes before the massacre.

Two days later, the Washington Post reported that 15 people accepted Gendron's invitation and were able to review his plan, read his racist writings and watch a live stream video of the shooting. It's unclear whether the retired agent accepted the invitation.

Just the News reached out to the FBI, which declined to comment for this story.

Gendron was an apparent white supremacist. All 10 people who died in the shooting were black.

Federal authorities are investigating whether the retired agent provided information to Gendron before the shooting.

They're also trying to determine the identify of an individual Gendron in his online diary called "Sandman," who according to Gendron's writings educated him on AR-15 semi-automatic rifles.

Police have said the shooter used a Bushmaster X-15, a version of the AR-15 rifle.  

It appears no one who had advanced notice of the killings notified law enforcement. The FBI is reportedly tracking down the six people, including the retired agent, said to be in regular contact with Gendron and attempting to determine if any of them should be charged as accomplices.

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