A "retired" federal agent "regularly communicated" with accused Buffalo gunman Payton Gendron in an online chatroom on Discord and authorities are investigating whether he had advanced knowledge of the attack, according to a report from The Buffalo News.
From The Buffalo News, "Authorities investigating if retired federal agent knew of Buffalo mass shooting plans in advance":
Law enforcement officers are investigating whether a retired federal agent had about 30 minutes advance notice of a white supremacist's plans to murder Black people at a Buffalo supermarket, two law enforcement officials told The Buffalo News. Another anonymous member of the Discord chat group counseled him on what gun to buy:
Authorities believe the former agent believed to be from Texas was one of at least six individuals who regularly communicated with accused gunman Payton Gendron in an online chat room where racist hatred was discussed, the two officials said.
The two law enforcement sources with direct knowledge of the investigation stated these individuals were invited by Gendron to read about his mass shooting plans and the target location about 30 minutes before Gendron killed 10 people at Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue on May 14.
The News could not determine if the retired agent accepted the invitation.
"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, said one of the two law enforcement officials with close knowledge of the investigation. "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."
Agents from the FBI are in the process of tracking down and interviewing the six people, including the retired agent, and attempting to determine if any of them should be charged as accomplices, the two sources with close knowledge of the probe told The Buffalo News.
The two sources did not identify the agent by name and could not confirm what federal agency he worked for.
The Buffalo FBI Office declined to comment on the investigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Buffalo declined through a spokeswoman to comment.
[...] The New York Times reported May 17 that Gendron invited a small group of people into a private chat room on the messaging platform Discord to review his plan about 30 minutes before the massacre at Tops. The Washington Post reported two days later that 15 people accepted Gendron's invitation into the Discord chat room and were able to review his plan and watch his live stream video as he committed the killings.
Federal authorities are investigating if the retired agent provided information to Gendron before he went on his shooting spree, the two law enforcement officials told The News.
In addition to law enforcement sources, two other individuals with knowledge of the mass shooting investigation have also confirmed that federal authorities are looking into the former agents relationship to the shooter.
FBI agents are also trying to determine the identity of an individual Gendron calls "Sandman," and "Saint Sandman" in his lengthy social media diary that appeared on Discord 30 minutes before the attack, the sources said.How many times have we seen this story?
In the diary, Gendron indicates Sandman counseled him on manufacturers of AR-15 semi-automatic rifles and their quality. The shooter purchased and allegedly used that type of assault rifle in the rampage, which local authorities have said was fueled by his racial hatred.
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