New York Attorney General Letitia James is launching an investigation into the social media platforms used by the Buffalo shooting suspect, Payton Gendron. On May 18, James took to Twitter to announce that she would be probing popular sites like Twitch, 4Chan, 8Chan and Discord to investigate how Gendron utilized the platforms to “plan, promote and stream his terror attack.”
Authorities say Gendron shared posts on Discord and several other sites noting how he visited the supermarket in March, between the hours of 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., to conduct a reconnaissance of the area before the shooting.
According to officials, the self-described white supremacist documented how many “Black and White people were there” and drew a comprehensive map “depicting the store aisles, pharmacy, bakery and exit points of the building.” During the heinous shooting on May 14, Gendron clipped a camera to his helmet and live-streamed the horrific shooting at the Tops Friendly Market on Twitch, killing 10 people and injuring three more.
“This terror attack again revealed the depths and dangers of these platforms that spread and promote hate without consequence,” James added in a follow-up tweet. “We are doing everything in our power to stop this dangerous behavior now and ensure it never happens again. ”
In a statement, Discord said it would be cooperating with James’ investigation. The company claimed that Gendron’s hateful posts were uploaded on a “private server” and that no one saw the messages until 30 minutes before the attack. Additionally, Twitch shared it would be suspending the suspect’s account and “monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting” the horrific “content.” The platform said it managed to stop the live stream within two minutes of its broadcasting, Axios noted.
Federal officials believe that Gendron’s attack was racially motivated and are now investigating the shooting as “a hate crime” and an act of “violent extremism,” according to CBS. Gendron posted over 600 messages on Discord that were laced with racist and anti-Semitic language. Officials also claimed that the gunman wondered why he hadn’t been approached by FBI officials. Gendron has since pleaded not guilty to murder in the first degree.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul has also joined in on the fight to prosecute Gendron. On Wednesday, Hochul tweeted that she had “issued a referral” to James to further investigate the 18-year-old suspect’s extremist beliefs regarding the replacement theory which is not a theory at all, but rather a baseless white claim that people from minority populations, both here and in Europe, are replacing the existing white, largely Christian population. The referral will allow James to “subpoena witnesses and compel the production of documents” the governor said during a press conference.