The investigation into the shooting that this Saturday caused 10 deaths and three injuries in a supermarket in Buffalo (New York) two days later has become self-criticism and, above all, an evaluation of possible failures and errors in the police and mental health services for the perpetrator, an 18-year-old white supremacist named Payton Gendron, whose stated intention was to cause as much harm as possible in the African-American community where he perpetrated his attack. There is no possible doubt about his racist motivation; Yes, many questions without easy answers about what happened after the young man was psychiatrically evaluated last June after making threats against his institute, and that first encounter with the police was left behind.
After being discharged from the hospital, Gendron, who will appear before the judge on Thursday, disappeared from the radar of the police and mental health services. A one-year limbo, in which the young man, described as taciturn and unsociable, almost an outcast, by his classmates, shaped the massacre on Saturday. His plans, which he detailed in a 180-page document posted on the Internet, included a second attack on another supermarket after sowing horror at the Tops chain, one of the largest employers in upstate New York, and where on Saturday the neighbors of the neighbourhood, lower class and mostly Afro-American, did their shopping. “I had plans to continue driving to shoot more black people … possibly at another store or location,” Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia told ABC on Monday. Today the identity of the victims, aged between 32 and 86, has been released. Eleven of the 13 victims were black.
In short, it is about finding out what signs were overlooked, what clamoring alerts, if any, went unheeded, to determine what could have been done to stop him, in addition to having prevented him from legally purchasing the semi-automatic rifle with which committed the massacre, but that is another politically flammable debate and, therefore, inopportune in an election year, the mid-term ones, on November 8, which will renew the composition of Congress. For this reason, the researchers scrutinize the apparently problematic behavior of the adolescent in high school and his activity in minute detail. onlinein ultra forums, which did not attract any attention despite the fact that it was precisely the internet where his white supremacism became radicalized.
The stories of his high school classmates unanimously describe a strange guy, who on the first day that classes resumed after the pandemic showed up at the center dressed in a complete bacteriological protection suit (gloves, leggings and mask). All the testimonies relate to a little talkative boy, always on the limits of social interaction. “A pretty outcast guy”, according to the definition of one of them, collected by the newspaper The New York Times. Only one classmate, with whom he used to go to the pool and talk about her future plans, graduating and moving on in life, paints a kinder picture.
But the definition of character, far from being conclusive, would not by itself explain Gendron’s drift. In June 2021, he had his first contact with the police after making widespread threats, none of them racist, against the institute. The police referred him to a hospital center for a psychiatric evaluation, from which he was released a day and a half later. From then on, the track is lost, despite its incessant activity onlineand the record in the files of the local police of Conklin, about 300 kilometers southeast of Buffalo, where he lived with his parents and two brothers, fell into oblivion.
Gendron has been placed under anti-suicide protocol in the Erie County Jail cell where he awaits his hearing. On Saturday, after surrendering without resistance to the police, he threatened to shoot himself in the jaw, but his appearance in county court, hours later, for the arraignment showed him as an unruffled young man, without showing the slightest emotion. Also aware of the accusations of first-degree murder against him, it could cost him to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
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The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) May 16, 2022
While digesting the shock caused by the massacre, Buffalo, who will receive a visit from President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, on Tuesday, remembers that the racism that fueled Gendron’s hatred is, in his case, a deep-seated, structural feeling. Demographically, with one of the largest African-American populations in the state, it was a pole of attraction for a sufferer of white supremacy like Gendron, who lives in a majority white county. The theory of the great replacement, which poisoned the author and according to which the white American population will cease to be a majority in favor of other races, especially the black, has once again become the headline today in the US, going beyond the limits of the Republican circle in which he has made his fortune. So much so that Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a black sheep of the Republicans for her criticism of Donald Trump, today urged her coreligionists to reject white supremacism. “The leadership of the Republican Party in the House has enabled white nationalism, supremacism and anti-Semitism,” she tweeted. “History has taught us that what begins with words ends in something much worse. The leaders of the GOP [siglas del partido] they must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”
A statement, that of Cheney, which according to some analysts may have consequences on the role of referee that Trump exercises, as a factotum, in the Republican primaries for the November elections, in addition to giving electoral gains to the Democrats.
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