The FBI is investigating if a retired federal agent had about 30 minutes advance notice of the accused gunman’s plan to kill Black people at a Buffalo, New York supermarket.
The Buffalo News attributed the information to two unnamed law enforcement officials.
The former agent was not named and the newspaper’s sources could not confirm which agency he worked for.
But they said he is believed to be from Texas and was one of six people who regularly communicated in an online chatroom with accused gunman Payton Gendron. The sources say those who were in online contact with Gendron were invited by him to read about his plans to kill at the Tops supermarket on May 14. The invitation went out 30 minutes before the shooting spree.
It is not known 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,” 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.
“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.”
The Buffalo News said authorities are tracking down and interviewing the six people, including the retired agent. They are in the process of determining if any should be charged as accomplices.
Terrence Connors, an attorney representing several families who lost loved ones in the shooting, told the newspaper: “As outrageous as this may sound, based upon what we are finding in our investigation, it is not surprising.” He would not reveal the evidence his law firm has collected.
The Buffalo FBI Office and the Justice Department declined to comment on the investigation.
Meanwhile, an Erie County, New York, 911 dispatcher was put on administrative leave just days after the shooting after the assistant manager of the Tops supermarket in Buffalo said the dispatcher hung up on her when she called about the mass shooting.
''I tried to call 911, and I was whispering because I could hear him close by,'' the store's assistant manager, who identified herself as Latisha, told Buffalo television station WGRZ.
''And when I whispered on the phone to 911, the dispatcher started yelling at me saying, 'Why are you whispering? You don't have to whisper.' And I'm trying to tell her like, 'Ma'am, he's in the store. He's shooting. It's an active shooter. I'm scared for my life.' And she said something crazy to me and then she hung up in my face. And I had to call my boyfriend to call 911.''
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