The man whom police allege killed ten people May 14 at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store tried to share plans of his attack ahead of time.
According to a report by The Buffalo News, the shooter was in regular contact with a group of at least six like-minded people in an online chatroom. At least one of them is reportedly a retired federal agent.
Two law enforcement sources with direct knowledge of the investigation reportedly informed the News about the online group. The sources reportedly said the six were invited by gunman Payton Gendron to review his plan and target location before he attacked.
“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. “What is especially upsetting is that these six people received advanced notice of the Buffalo shooting, about 30 minutes before it happened.”
None of the invited people contacted law enforcement to warn them about the shooting, officials said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation database has no record of advance tips from anyone warning about the shooting before it happened, according to the report.
Agents from the FBI are reportedly tracking down the six individuals, including the retired agent. to determine if any should be charged as accomplices, the two sources told The Buffalo News. The News added their sources did not provide the agent’s name or confirm what federal agency he retired from.
It is unclear if the retired agent accepted the invitation issued through the chat application, Discord.
A Discord spokeswoman expressed sympathy for the victims and issued a statement afterwards with more details, according to New York Times report.
“What we know at this time is that a private, invite-only server was created by the suspect to serve as a personal diary chat log,” the statement from Discord said. “Approximately 30 minutes prior to the attack, however, a small group of people were invited to and joined the server.”
A subsequent report by The Washington Post said Discord revealed 15 people had accepted an invitation the alleged shooter sent shortly before the attack began. The were reportedly able to watch a live stream of the massacre at the Jefferson Avenue Topps Market, in Buffalo.
The Post noted that 22 people watched a live stream of the shooting on the streaming app, Twitch, but was unable to determine if that included the 15 who watched using Discord.