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Accused Buffalo shooter Payton Gendron was hospitalized and underwent a mental health evaluation in 2021 after making a “generalized threat,” according to police officials.
Gendron, an 18-year-old from Conklin, New York, was hospitalized for a mental health evaluation for one-and-a-half days in June 2021, after he made the general threat in his hometown, according to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.
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A spokesperson for the New York State Police said troopers responded to Susquehanna High School in Conklin, N.Y., “to investigate a report that a 17-year-old student had made a threatening statement.” The spokesperson did not identify the subject by name, but said there was no target associated with the threat.
“The state police responded,” Gramaglia said during Sunday’s press conference. “They investigated. They interviewed the subject, and they felt it was appropriate at that time to have that individual brought in for a mental health evaluation. State police did their job to the fullest that they could at that time.”
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Gramaglia later added: “He was evaluated, and then he was released. As far as when we say ‘On the radar,’ there was nothing picked up on the state police intelligence, nothing that was picked up on the FBI intelligence. Nobody called in. Nobody called any complaints.”
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Law enforcement officials have said 18-year-old Gendron traveled to Buffalo on Friday and opened fire at a Tops Friendly Market store on Saturday, killing 10 people and wounding at least three others.
Eleven of the victims were Black individuals, while the remaining two victims were White, authorities have said.
On Saturday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland called the attack “a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism.”
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Gendron, who is White, pulled up to the Tops grocery store around 2:30 p.m. and immediately began firing off shots – wounding four people in front of the market before making his way inside, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. Three of the four victims died.
Once inside, he exchanged fire with store security guard Aaron Salter, who was a retired police officer, officials have said. Salter fired several rounds at Gendron before the suspect fatally shot him, Gramaglia said.
Gendron then allegedly made his way around the store shooting several other victims. When confronted by police, Gendron placed the rifle to his neck before dropping the weapon and surrendering, the police chief said.
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Officials have said the suspect live-streamed a portion of the shooting on social media platform Twitch. A Twitch spokesperson said the stream was suspended within two minutes. Gendron also allegedly detailed his plans in an extensive manifesto.
So far, investigators have found that Gendron was in possession of “three weapons. There were two in the car and one in his possession,” Gramaglia said.
“One was a rifle, one was a shotgun … He had an AR-15” inside the store with him, the commissioner added.
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Gendron was charged with first-degree murder. He was arraigned late Saturday and pleaded not guilty. He was ordered held without bail and is due back in court on Thursday.