Authorities say Buffalo shooter, 18, was not on their radar despite threatening to carry out a school shooting last year: NY governor calls for inquiry into lack of police follow-up
- Accused gunman Payton Gendron threatened to shoot up a high school last year
- Police say Gendron, then-17, made a non-specific shooting threat in June 2021
- He underwent a mental evaluation and was hospitalized for less than two days
- After his release, Gendron had no further contact with law enforcement
- NY Gov. Kathy Hochul has called for an investigation focusing on what could have been done to stop Gendron from shooting up a supermarket on Saturday
Payton Gendron, 18, threatened to shoot up Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna High School last year around graduation
A teenaged gunman who allegedly murdered 10 people in a ‘racist hate crime’ at a supermarket in upstate New York was not on law enforcement’s radar despite having made a school shooting threat last year.
Payton Gendron, 18, who surrendered to police at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo on Saturday after firing a barrage of 50 shots at the store, underwent a mental health evaluation last summer after he threatened to open fire at his high school.
Police were called to Gendron’s high school in Conklin, New York, located near the Pennsylvania border, on June 8, 2021 after he made a threatening statement, authorities revealed during a press conference Sunday.
‘The state police responded. They investigated. They interviewed the subject. And they felt at the time it was appropriate to have that individual brought in for a mental health evaluation,’ Buffalo police commissioner Joseph Gramaglia explained.
Gramaglia said the threat was not racist and not directed at a specific person or place. However, an unnamed law enforcement source told The Associated Press Gendron, then-17, had threatened to shoot up Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna High School around graduation.
The teen underwent a mental health evaluation and, after spending a day-and-a-half in the hospital, was released. Gramaglia said that after his release, Gendron had no further contact with law enforcement.
‘Nobody called in,’ the police commissioner said. ‘Nobody called any complaints.’
New York Governor Kathy Hochul told ABC News on Sunday that an investigation would focus on what could have been done to stop Gendron, since he had advertised his views online and had been on authorities’ radar.
‘I want to know what people knew and when they knew it,’ she said.
Gendron, of Conklin, NY, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder following Saturday’s attack. He is being held without bail and faces life in prison.
Police believe he planned the attack for months before driving three hours to Buffalo to carry out the vile ambush that authorities are calling an act of ‘violent extremism’ motivated by race.
‘The evidence that we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime,’ Gramaglia said, CNN reported. ‘This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind.’
The alleged killer, who is due back in court on Thursday, is currently on suicide watch and is being held in a separate unit from other inmates, the sheriff of Erie County, John Garcia, said at the news conference Sunday.