The Buffalo FBI is investigating whether a former federal agent knew beforehand of an accused gunman’s plans to murder black people at a local supermarket, law enforcement officials told The Buffalo News.
Officials believe the retired agent was one of at least six individuals who regularly communicated about “racial hatred” with accused gunman Payton Gendron in a chat room, one official with close knowledge of the investigation told The Buffalo News.
Gendron reportedly invited these individuals to read his mass shooting plans about 30 minutes before Gendron killed black 10 people at Tops Markets on May 14, two law enforcement sources told 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,” the official said. “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 investigating the six individuals, including the retired agent, in an attempt to determine if any of them should be charged as accomplices to the shooting, the two sources close to the investigation told The Buffalo News.
It was undetermined if the former agent accepted the invitation, The Buffalo News reported.
“If he had advance notice, he had a moral obligation to get on the phone and try to notify someone about it,” Buffalo civil rights attorney John V. Elmore told The Buffalo News.
Before opening fire in the supermarket parking lot, Gendron posted a racist rant and invited people to watch the shooting live on the streaming platform Twitch. 15 people accepted Gendron’s invitation and were able to watch him commit the killings on his live stream, The Washington Post previously reported.
The Buffalo FBI Office did not return the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.