A new report says a former federal agent is being investigated as part of the probe into the Buffalo shooting this month that killed 10 people.
The report in The Buffalo News focuses on an invitation-only online event held by accused gunman Payton Gendron shortly before he went to the Tops supermarket where the massacre occurred.
About 30 minutes before the May 14 attack, Gendron invited people with whom he had conversations online to hear about his plans and then watch the attack as he live-streamed it.
“Six people received advanced notice of the Buffalo shooting,” the report said, citing a law enforcement source.
The News account said a former federal agent, believed to be from Texas, was among those invited. What was unclear was whether he accepted.
The report said 15 people accepted invitations to communicate with Gendron on the day of the shooting.
Officials believe the people on the chat would have presumably known about the attack before it happened and would have been in a position to alert authorities.
No warnings of the attack were received.
The News account said the retired agent, whose former agency affiliation was not given, and at least five other people officials believe regularly communicated with Gendron are a focus of the investigation, according to The Buffalo News report, which was based on two law enforcement sources it did not name.
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“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 officials said in the report.
“What is especially upsetting is that these six people received advanced notice of the Buffalo shooting about 30 minutes before it happened.
“The FBI has verified that none of these people called law enforcement to warn them about the shooting. The FBI database shows no advance tips from anyone that this shooting was about to happen.”
John V. Elmore, an attorney representing one victim of the attack, said the retiree should have acted.
“If he had advance notice, he had a moral obligation to get on the phone and try to notify someone about it,” Elmore said.
A report in The Washington Post said it was uncertain whether the social media site Discord, where these communications took place, can determine what the invitees did after hearing about Gendron’s plans.
The invitation was titled “Happening: This is not a drill.” The Post reported that 22 people watched the opening moments of Gendron’s attack before the live-stream was disabled.
The Buffalo News also reported that authorities are trying to learn the identity of someone Gendron called “Sandman” who apparently mentored Gendron on weapons and tactics.