Law enforcement officials are investigating whether a retired federal agent was aware of the Buffalo gunman’s plans at least 30 minutes prior to the attack. Authorities believe the former agent – who is believed to be from Texas – was one of at least six individuals who regularly communicated with accused killer Payton Gendron in a Discord channel.
About 30 minutes before carrying out the massacre in a Buffalo supermarket, Gendron invited six individuals to join a Discord channel to review his plans. According to a report from The New York Times, posts in the server were visible only to Gendron up until that moment.
None of the six individuals, including the retired federal agent, notified Buffalo law enforcement after Payton Gendron clearly laid out his plans. The accused killer even posted a map of the Tops grocery store that he planned to attack, as well as photos of his gear. Gendron’s rampage ultimately played out almost exactly the way he envisioned after none of the six individuals informed the police.
Federal authorities are now investigating if the retired agent provided information to Gendron before he went on his shooting spree, according to a report from The Buffalo News.
“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,” one of the two law enforcement officials with close knowledge of the investigation told the outlet. “What is especially upsetting is that these six people received advanced notice of the Buffalo shooting, about 30 minutes before it happened.”
The FBI is currently tracking down the retired agent, as well as the five other individuals, in order to interview them and determine whether anyone should be charged as an accomplice. The two sources did not reveal the retired agent’s identify or what federal agency he worked for, according to The Buffalo News.
Federal authorities are also trying to find the identify of an individual Gendron refers to as “Sandman” or “Saint Sandman.”
The individual was mentioned numerous times in Payton Gendron’s outline of the massacre that was uploaded to the Discord server 30 minutes before the attack. In his manifesto, Gendron claims that “Sandman” instructed him on how to acquire the weapons he wanted to use in the attack.
In the document Payton Gendron posted on Discord just prior to the shooting, he references Sandman three times.
On May 2, Gendron quoted “Sandman” as saying:
“When the time finally comes to deal decisively with a whole host of society’s problems, and not go to prison for it, you’ll know. Just be ready. You have spent your entire life, from the day you were born, right up to this very moment, reading this sentence, coming to where you are right now. Look around you. Are you content with where you are right now? Are you where you want to be? If so, continue to march. If not, what are you going to do? What’s your plan? Get and keep your mind, body, and spirit right. Pray. Lift. Run. Read. Shoot. And teach your kids to do those things.”
The FBI’s field office in Buffalo has not commented on the investigation, nor has the U.S. Attorney for the district.