Senate debate shows raw emotions and blame for Buffalo shooting | News, Sports, Jobs



FBI investigators enter the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, NY, Monday, May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

Sen. Tim Kennedy and Sen. Sean Ryan, in impassioned speeches Monday on the state Senate floor, called on society to fight white supremacy following a shooting that killed 10 in Buffalo on Saturday .

Kennedy and Ryan, Democrats who represent Buffalo in the state Senate, spoke during the debate on resolution J.2634, expressing their condolences to the Buffalo community and applauding those who acted immediately as Conklin’s Payton Gendron , NY, led his attack.

“I don’t know if I should scream or cry” said Ryan. “Who did this? An 18-year-old man-child. For the love of God, how does an 18-year-old have so much hate in his heart and how does he get an assault weapon. They have probably never been to Buffalo before. They drove 2.5 hours from their bucolic country town because they were afraid that blacks and minorities were taking over the country. This 18-year-old man-child thought that he had to answer the call to action. “Where is this call coming from? It’s all over our media. Turn on Fox News. Go to one of the blogs and you will hear it. The Replacement Theory – there is an elitist conspiracy going on in America for minorities to replace white people. You can laugh and say, ‘Well, that’s the craziest thing in the world.’ Well, almost every mass murder I’ve read about has been fueled by this theory.

Gendron legally purchased the AR-15 style rifle used in the filming from a store in Endicott, NY in recent months, according to the store owner in an Associated Press report. Robert Donald, owner of Vintage Firearms, told ABC News and The New York Times that he had purchase records, but did not recall selling the rifle to Gendron. He said Gendron passed an instant background check the day he bought the gun. He said federal agents informed him that the rifle he sold to Gendron was used in the shooting.

Sen. Fred Akshar, R-Binghamton, represents the area that includes Gendron’s hometown of Conklin, a town of about 5,000 people just north of the Pennsylvania border in Broome County. Akshar said Gendron’s actions should not be seen as a reflection of the communities Akshar represents.

“My distinguished colleague from Buffalo, Senator Ryan, said they were from” Akshar said. Let’s remember that it wasn’t “they” were coming. He came from this community. Like I said, it doesn’t reflect the people of the community I so proudly represent. I think we have a few options here, and I sincerely hope, Madam President, that we will not continue down this path of right this, left that. We cannot continue on a path where we are adding fuel to the fire or fanning the flames. We are not allowing this conversation to become hyperpolitical, allowing this issue not to divide us but, as Senator Lanza said, to unite us. As colleagues on this august body, as New Yorkers, I truly hope that we can find common ground around this issue to ensure this does not happen again.

Zaire Goodman, 20, is the son of a Kennedy staffer and was injured in the shooting. Goodman will turn 21 next week and is expected to recover from his injuries.

“His mother called him divine protection”, Kennedy said. “He is certainly a miracle, a light in the midst of our darkest day. He is now home in the care of his mother. Our hearts are broken for the families who will not be able to welcome their loved ones home for provide them with the loving care they too deserve. Our entire community, our entire state and our entire nation is devastated. And now, in the wake of this massacre, we wonder why. Why would someone drive for hours to commit cold-blooded murder? What would make someone so heinous and cruel?

Gendron’s diaries and writings indicate that the rampage was intended to terrorize non-whites into leaving the country, according to Associated Press reports. He reproduces the ideas left by other white killers whose massacres he had studied at length online. The white replacement theory was the motive for white supremacist mass killers at a summer camp in Norway in 2011, two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019, a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, and a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

Gendron’s alleged written rant and some of the methods indicate he studied the Christchurch shooter closely – particularly the effort to live-stream his rampage. According to apparent screenshots from the Buffalo show, the shooter has the number 14 on his gun, which Pitcavage says is shorthand for a 14-word white supremacist slogan.

“We must all reject this evil worldview of white supremacy and we must call it out and shut it out at every opportunity and every time it rears its ugly head,” Kennedy said in a fiery speech to the Senate. “Each of us has a moral duty to call out where we see it and when we see it, whether on social media, on our airwaves on TV and wherever we hear or see it in the community. – even in the halls of our government. We have not done enough as a state and as a nation. We must recommit ourselves here and now to combat this scourge of our society. And if we ever needed ‘a rationale for a ban on strong, bulletproof federal assault weapons and background checks, that’s it. That’s it. This morally bankrupt worldview of white supremacy and white nationalism that’s is entrenched in our society needs to be stopped and it needs to be stopped in its tracks today. Enough is enough. Buffalo is the city of good neighbors. But being good neighbors hasn’t stopped the devil from visiting us. Saturday afternoon.

At the end of Gendron’s senior year of high school, he logged into a virtual learning program in the economics classroom that required: “What do you plan to do when you retire?”

“Murder-suicide” Gendron typed.

Despite his protestations that it was all a joke, Gendron was questioned by state police about the possible threat, then taken into custody and hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation under a state mental health law. Gendron threatened to shoot at Susquehanna Valley High School upon graduation, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Gendron had no further contact with law enforcement after he was released from the hospital.

This story, and the fact that Gendron was still able to purchase a gun, caught the attention of Senator George Borrello. The Sunset Bay Republican said allowing children to spend too much time online in virtual worlds where there are no consequences for their thoughts and actions allows evil to fester.

“We live in a world, quite frankly, where we have ignored, out of concern, the great need to care for those with mental illness and violent tendencies,” Borrello told the Senate. “We closed hospitals to deal with this, we closed observation beds. We actually said we didn’t want to give mental health professionals the ability to take a little longer to assess someone to see if they’re dangerous enough to see if they should be detained. We want to place blame, but the reality is that evil exists. And until we recognize the fact that we allow this evil to fester, it will not end. … Regardless of my political affiliation and political philosophies, I am proud to be here as a fellow Western New Yorker. Madam President, we are moving forward now. The pain that drives us, I hope, will lead us to a better future.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report



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