A 180-page manifesto attributed to Payton Gendron and posted online just before he allegedly shot 13 people at a Buffalo supermarket, killing 10, shows in chilling detail the meticulous planning that apparently went into the racist massacre.
Alongside tirades about his false belief that White Americans were being “replaced” by people of other races, the 18-year-old suspect allegedly included in the manifesto a hand-drawn map of the store he targeted, a minute-by-minute plan of the deadly attack, and pages upon pages listing the equipment and clothing he planned to wear – from military-style body armor down to the brand of his underwear.
CNN independently obtained the document shortly after the mass shooting and before authorities released the name of the suspect. Law enforcement sources have told CNN that the manifesto’s description of guns matches the weapons that the suspect used, and Gov. Kathy Hochul and other authorities have referred to the document in press conferences and interviews as clear evidence that the attack was racially motivated.
“This manifesto tells everything to us, and that is what is so bone-chilling about it,” Hochul told CNN on Sunday.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told CNN that “we are obviously going through [the manifesto] with a fine-toothed comb and reviewing that for all evidence.”
Gendron, who was charged with first-degree murder on Saturday and pleaded not guilty, is from Conklin, New York, a small Southern Tier town near Binghamton, according to police and other authorities. He studied at SUNY Broome this school year but has not been enrolled there since March 22, a spokesperson for the college said.
In the manifesto, the author identified himself as Gendron and wrote that he had been “serious” about the Buffalo attack since January, practicing and training for it, but had been “buying ammo, surplus military gear and shooting irregularly” for years before.
The suspect allegedly chose to attack the Tops Friendly Markets store in Buffalo because it was in a majority-Black zip code within driving distance of where he lived, and researched what time it would be busiest, according to the manifesto.
The document included a minute-by-minute outline of the suspect’s plan, and the author drew a color-coded map of the interior of the store, laying out how he planned to “shoot all black people.” It’s unclear how closely the gunman’s attack followed the plan listed in the manifesto.
Gendron also allegedly wrote that he planned to livestream a video of the attack on the online platform Twitch. Twitch said in a statement to CNN that the video was removed less than two minutes after the violence began.
The manifesto states that the suspect bought the main gun he used, a Bushmaster XM-15, from a gun store in Endicott, New York, Vintage Firearms, before “illegally modifying it.”
Vintage Firearms did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment, but the store’s owner, Robert Donald, told the New York Times that Gendron passed a background check before he bought the gun and he didn’t stick out among his other customers.
In the manifesto, Gendron allegedly details how he had been radicalized by reading online message boards, while describing the attack as terrorism and himself as a White supremacist. He wrote that he had “moved farther to the right” politically over the last three years.
The suspect started browsing the message board 4chan – a hotbed for racist, sexist and White nationalist content – in May 2020 “after extreme boredom” during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the manifesto. Posts he had read on the site made him believe that “the White race is dying out,” among other racist beliefs, and led him down a rabbit hole to other extremist websites, the manifest states.
The conspiracy theory of a “great replacement” has been a motivator of other violent attacks, experts in extremism have said. Some forms of the theory have more recently gone mainstream in conservative news outlets and politicians.
One day while browsing 4chan, Gendron saw a video clip of the gunman who killed 51 people in New Zealand at two mosques in 2019, according to the manifesto. That livestream “started everything you see here,” the manifesto states.
In addition to the New Zealand massacre, Gendron was allegedly inspired by other racist mass shooters including the gunman who killed nine Black people at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015, and the assailant who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, according to the manifesto. The document includes dozens of pages of racist and anti-Semitic screeds – including some language that appears to be copied from the New Zealand shooter’s own manifesto.