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Suspect in Buffalo mass shooting on suicide watch as state police confirm he made contact last year with “generalized threats”

Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said during a news conference Sunday that the man arrested in the homicide of 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.,, has been placed on suicide watch. The suspect, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, was placed on suicide watch because he made an apparent threat to kill himself after carrying out the attack at the Tops grocery store.  Said Garcia: “Because of his actions yesterday taking the assault rifle and putting it under his chin, he’s on suicide watch. So he’s on direct observation by our deputies, video surveillance, and he’s in a unit separated from all other incarcerated individuals. His travels throughout the facility will be by himself, along with two deputies and a sergeant. He will be treated as everyone else is treated in the Erie County Holding Center, humanely and with respect and will receive correctional health and mental health help as needed.”

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said during a news conference Saturday that 11 of the 13 total victims were Black and officials have called it a “racially motivated” attack.  Said Gramaglia: “The evidence we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this was an absolute racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime. This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind and there is no mistake that this is the direction it is going in.”  Gramaglia said that warrants are being obtained to search his home, social media platforms, a computer, telephone and “any other digital footprints that might come along.”

Gramaglia also confirmed that Gendron had contact with state police last year after he made “generalized threats” at his high school, saying in part:  “State police had brought this individual in for a mental health evaluation. He went to the local hospital, he was there for, the information we have, is about a day and a half. He was evaluated and released at that point.”

Gendron was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for fatally shooting 10 people, including a retired police officer working as a security guard who confronted the shooter, as well as injuring three others at the grocery store Saturday afternoon.

Editorial credit: Scott Cornell / Shutterstock.com

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