Payton S. Gendron, an 18-year-old white man who police say shot 13 people at a Buffalo grocery store, had posted a hate-filled manifesto online that included an account of detailed planning for the attack and an explanation of his motives and inspiration, according to a senior federal law enforcement official.
The mass shooting was the latest massacre driven by a white supremacist ideology, following similar acts of violence in recent years from El Paso, Texas, to Christchurch, New Zealand. At a news conference Saturday, the Erie County sheriff, John C. Garcia, called the shooting a “straight-up racially motivated hate crime.”
It unfolded in a largely Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, and 11 of the people shot were Black, officials said. Gendron wrote in his manifesto that he had selected the area because it held the largest percentage of Black residents near his home in the state’s Southern Tier.
On Saturday evening, authorities pored over the document, which outlined each step of a plan to kill as many Black people as possible.
He named the Bushmaster semi-automatic assault rifle he would use. He constructed a full timeline of the day, detailing the parking spot he would drive to, where he would eat beforehand and where he would livestream the violence. And he had carefully studied the layout of the grocery store, writing that he would shoot a security guard near the entrance before walking through aisles and firing upon Black shoppers, shooting them twice in the chest when he could.
His writings were also riddled with racist, anti-immigrant views arguing that white Americans are at risk of being replaced by people of color, a common trope on the far-right known as the “great replacement” theory. The same ideas have motivated gunmen in several other mass shootings.
Gendron wrote that he was inspired by the perpetrators of other white supremacist acts of violence, naming Dylann Roof, who killed nine Black parishioners in South Carolina in 2015, among other gunmen. His plan for the shooting in Buffalo resembled the 2019 massacre at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in which more than 20 people died and the gunman had also posted a four-page screed filled with white supremacist views.
He said that he felt a particular connection to Brenton Harrison Tarrant — calling him the person “who had radicalized him the most.” Tarrant was sentenced to life without parole for killing 51 Muslims during Friday prayer at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Gendron said that he had watched Tarrant’s livestream of the attack and read his writings.
Buffalo officials said that Gendron had “traveled hours from outside” the neighborhood to unleash gunfire at unsuspecting shoppers at an outlet of the regional grocery chain Tops Friendly Markets. He lived in the Southern Tier of New York with his parents and two brothers, according to the manifesto.
A spokeswoman at SUNY Broome Community College near Binghamton added that he was a former student whose dates of attendance were not immediately known.
Gendron’s writings depicted a man who grew to hold racist views in recent years as he visited fringe online spaces. His beliefs and ideology had moved further right over the past three years, he wrote.
Around May 2020, during a period of pandemic boredom, Gendron said that he had begun to frequent 4chan, an anonymous forum, including its Politically Incorrect message board. There, he said, he was exposed to the conspiracy theory that white people are at risk of being replaced.
He had been “passively preparing” for the attack in Buffalo for several years, purchasing ammunition and gear, while infrequently practicing shooting, he wrote. Around January, he wrote, the plans “actually got serious.”