A man who spoke with the alleged gunman the day before the Buffalo shooting says he would have been shot had he been at the crime scene in a Monday interview with ABC News.
Grady Lewis told ABC News that he bought a drink for Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old alleged suspect in the Buffalo area shooting, one day before Gendron allegedly opened fire in the parking lot of a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood in Conklin, New York.
Lewis said he and Gendron discussed issues like Critical Race Theory (CRT) and black holes just hours before the alleged shooter opened fire in the parking lot, which left 10 people dead and three wounded.
“I’m wondering, could I have talked to him and said, ‘Hey, we’re all one,’” Lewis told ABC News. “Love, peace … he needed a hug because he came back here to the same spot where I bought him something to drink and shot people that looked like me and would’ve shot me if I was standing near.”
Lewis said Gendron asked him if he would be there the next day, to which Lewis replied yes. “Maybe he lives in a small town, don’t know any black people, he kind of liked me and he want to come back and talk to me again” instead of coming back to “open fire in the middle of the parking lot,” Lewis added.
“He looked out of place…I must’ve felt a really strange energy about him.”
A man who spoke with the alleged gunman and bought him a drink the day before the Buffalo shooting says he “would have shot me if I was standing there.” https://t.co/wjZHJ35dpV pic.twitter.com/5ReJzQJnK3
— ABC News (@ABC) May 16, 2022
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working closely with the Buffalo Police Department and local law enforcement partners to investigate the attack.
“The Justice Department is investigating this matter as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism,” Garland said in his statement. “The Justice Department is committed to conducting a thorough and expeditious investigation into this shooting and to seeking justice for these innocent victims.”
Lewis said police stopped him to ask about Gendron, and when shown a picture of the alleged suspect, he broke down crying, because it was the same kid he had spoken to the night before.
“He looked out of place,” Lewis told ABC News. “Now looking back on it, I must have felt a really strange energy about him.”
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