Authorities Probing Whether Ex-Federal Agent Knew of Buffalo Shooting Beforehand - Reports
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US authorities are investigating whether a former federal agent had advance notice of the Buffalo supermarket shooter's plan to carry out an attack that ultimately left 10 people dead, Buffalo News said in a report, citing law enforcement officials.
Investigators believe that a retired federal agent, who may reside in Texas, could have been one of six people in contact with the alleged 18-year old gunman through an online chat, where he wrote about his plans roughly 30 minutes before the shooting, the report said on Thursday.
Despite suspected shooter Payton Gendron writing about his attack plans in the online chatroom – where white supremacist beliefs were also purportedly discussed – none of the six people notified law enforcement after learning about them, according to the report.
The law enforcement sources could not identify the agent’s name or the federal agency for which they worked, the report added.
FBI agents are currently in the process of locating the six individuals for interviews, as well as to determine whether they could be charged as accomplices in the incident, the report said. The FBI has also qualified the attack as a racially motivated hate crime.
The US House of Representatives in response to the attack and others like it passed legislation to establish dedicated domestic terrorism units withitn several federal agencies, including the FBI and Justice Department. However, the Senate on Thursday was unable to advance the legislation amid Republican opposition.
FBI Director Christopher Wray testified in a congressional hearing on Wednesday, where he called lone actors or small cells who radicalize online and seek to attack soft targets with easily accessible weapons "the greatest terrorism threat" to the United States.
Active shooter incidents in the United States increased by more than 50% in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to the FBI.