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, on May 14.
According to Buffalo News, authorities believe the former agent–believed to be from Texas–was one of at least six individuals who regularly communicated with the accused gunman Payton Gendron. Two officials said the individuals talked via an online chat room where racist hatred was discussed.
The sources said Gendron had also invited some online acquaintances to read about his hate-fueled, imminent plan to attack the Tops Friendly Markets store, where he allegedly killed 10 Black people and left three others injured. One dead victim was a retired Buffalo cop.
The Buffalo 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,” one of the officials told the local news outlet.
“What is especially upsetting is that these six people received advanced notice of the Buffalo shooting, about 30 minutes before it happened,” the source said.
“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,” the official added.
The FBI is trying to track down the six people, who may be charged as accomplices in the shooting, the sources told the newspaper, the Buffalo News reported.
The New York Post previously reported that 15 people accepted Gendron’s invitation to a private chatroom named, “Happening: This is not a drill”—where he allegedly spent months meticulously planning his attack.
The chatroom included months of posts written by an author who identified himself as Gendron, describing his views and outlining how he’d scouted the Tops Friendly Markets in a crazed plan to “kill as many Black people as possible.”
Both The Buffalo FBI Office and The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Buffalo reportedly declined to comment to the Buffalo News.