“This individual came with the objective of killing as many black people as possible,” summed up Byron Brown, the mayor of this town in northern New York state on Sunday, which was plunged into horror.
A desire that the suspect, who was arrested on the spot, explained at length in a 180-page manifesto, where he wrote in particular: “I am simply a white man who seeks to protect and serve my community, my people, my culture and my race”.
He appears in a police photograph with shoulder-length hair, a scowling face, a few hairs on his chin.
His killing was meticulously prepared: he had, the day before, carried out scouting in the Tops supermarket where the shooting took place, and his manifesto provides, minute by minute, his attack, equipped like a soldier from head to toe, a camera in addition to broadcast his assault live on the Twitch platform.
Prosecuted for “premeditated murder”, Payton Gendron pleaded not guilty during a first appearance this weekend and must return to court on May 19. He faces life in prison.
On the barrel of his assault rifle, bought legally, we see inscribed in white an offensive, racist and taboo word in the United States to designate black people and the number “14”, a reference to a slogan of white supremacists.
– Inspired by another killer –
Payton Gendron was born in 2003 and grew up in a small, almost exclusively white, rather rural town in New York State, more than three hours by road from the supermarket in Buffalo. He says he chose this place for his shooting because it was located in the neighborhood with “the highest rate” of African-American inhabitants in the region.
A year ago, when asked about his intentions when he left high school, he said he wanted to carry out a massacre before committing suicide. A joke, according to him, but the police had worried about this threat and had sent him to a psychiatric hospital, from which he was released a few days later without follow-up, reported American media.
Tells him in his manifesto that he immersed himself in May 2020, after “extreme boredom” due to confinement against Covid-19, in 4Chan, a forum used by the far right.
He finds his inspiration there: Brenton Tarrant, at the origin of a carnage in two mosques in New Zealand in 2019, killing 51 victims, and author of a manifesto. “I read it and found that I mostly agreed with him,” he notes.
He also copied and pasted large passages of his text in his, found AFP.
– Federal government priority –
At the center of their concerns, the so-called “great replacement” theory, popularized by the French writer Renaud Camus. “Finally, I felt awake,” he wrote. “Never again will I accept our replacement”, by, he thinks, non-white populations. While immersed in this conspiracy thesis with neo-Nazi origins, he makes sandwiches in a small store and briefly takes courses at a small university before dropping out.
In high school, after the lifting of health restrictions, he had one day presented himself in a waterproof suit of the bacteriological or chemical type, according to former comrades interviewed by the New York Times, who describe him as more and more isolated over the years. of his adolescence.
In his manifesto, conspiracy theories follow one another, and mainly target black and Jewish people. Pseudo-scientific birth charts alternate with memes, many of which are borrowed from the historical breviary of anti-Semitism.
His text is also a call to radicalization, “inevitable” in the face of “an attempt at genocide”, he writes. Extremist ideas that are infusing more and more in the United States.
In September 2021, the head of the federal police (FBI) indicated that around 2,700 investigations were underway for domestic terrorism, a doubling in a year and a half. The FBI and the US Department of Justice have each set up dedicated cells to deal with it.
Extremists have notably targeted a black church in Charleston (9 dead in 2015), a gay nightclub in Orlando (49 dead in 2016), a synagogue in Pittsburgh (11 dead in 2018), a supermarket frequented by Hispanics in El Paso ( 23 deaths in 2019).