The 18-year-old white supremacist who killed 10 people and injured a further 3 during a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York used the Christchurch shooter as a source of inspiration, authorities have said.
On Saturday, Payton Gendron entered Tops Friendly Markets around 2:30 PM ET dressed in tactical gear and armed with an assault weapon and opened fire on customers while they were grocery shopping. Immediately after parking his car, it was said that he shot 4 people in the parking lot before heading into the store and shooting multiple others. Eleven out of the 13 victims shot were Black.
He also live-streamed the entire ordeal on Twitch, a video-sharing platform for gamers.
“This was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John C. Garcia said Saturday, calling the shooting a “straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community.”
Speaking to CNN, an official with links to the investigation told the outlet that the shooter made some disturbing comments about his motives for the crime, spewing hatred towards the Black community.
“The official said the statements made after the arrest were clear and filled with hate toward the Black community,” the outlet wrote in an article. “The alleged shooter made it known he was targeting the Black community during the statements… Investigators have uncovered information from search warrants and other methods indicating the alleged shooter was ‘studying’ previous hate attacks and shootings.”
One of his sources of inspiration was the Christchurch shooter, who murdered 51 Muslims in New Zealand back in 2019 in what has been described as the ‘deadliest mass shooting in the country’s modern history.’ He also live-streamed the event across social media.
Using parts of his manifesto as well as the 17-minute video as a reference, it seems as though he implemented an almost-identical tactic when carrying out this heinous crime in New York and even posted about his plan shamelessly.
The New York Times delved into the details further, stating that “The Christchurch tome focuses on replacement theory, a racist conspiracy theory that an unnamed cabal is perpetually seeking to encourage nonwhite immigration to mostly white countries in an effort to change their demographic makeup. The Buffalo suspect’s post, which also focused on replacement theory, quotes from that screed verbatim several times, copying sections that make reference to “white genocide” and that reveal an obsession with birthrates in the Western world.
“One section, which appears to refer to the attack on a Buffalo grocery store and is virtually identical to the writing of the Christchurch gunman, openly states that the massacre being described should be thought of as terrorism.”
Gendron also referred to other notorious white terrorists such as the El Paso shooter who murdered 20 people in a Walmart store. The victims of this mass shooting were primarily members of the Hispanic community.
While the 21-year-old shooter also pleaded not guilty to his crime, he cited ‘Replacement Theory’ as one of his main motives too.
You only have to look as far as the last 5 years to see the concerning rise in white supremacy and its links to racially fuelled hate crimes towards minority groups. It seems as though authorities can find the time and money to try and investigate terrorism within every single other community when some of the most notorious perpetrators of the crime are white males.
The Guardian reported that “in the 20 years since 9/11, far-right extremists killed more people in the US than did American-based Islamist fundamentalists – but that’s often hard to discern from the way the federal government has treated domestic terrorism.”
So how about we finally start putting the same energy we do into combing through Muslim communities for alleged ‘suspects’ and start developing programmes to stop vulnerable white boys from becoming these callous, cold-blooded murderers that we’re starting to see too often these days?
The US Department of Justice is investigating the Buffalo shooting “as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism,” according to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The shooter has pleaded not guilty to the murders.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this horrific crime, as well as the African-American community as a whole. May Allah ease your pain during this difficult time.