A Day Before the Mass Shooting: Buffalo Resident Recalls Two Hour Conversation with Accused Shooter
BUFFALO,NY (WENY)-- On Saturday, May 14th, a Broome County man opened fire in a racially motivated mass shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, killing 10 and wounding three others, almost all of them Black.
While the mass murder was committed on Saturday May 14th, that was not the day the suspect arrived in Buffalo. Just the day before, on Friday, May 13th, Buffalo native, Grady Lewis noticed him sitting outside of the supermarket where the mass shooting would later occur, and he spoke with the shooter for almost two hours.
“When I saw him walking out of the store on Friday, a feeling came over me that he does not belong here, not that he didn't belong there because he was white, he didn’t belong there,” said Lewis.
Lewis proceeded to stop him and have a conversation with him, asking him where he was from and how he ended up in Buffalo. Lewis said his answers were a little off, but that he seemed like an educated young man.
“ I said ok he is not really giving me anything, but I am still getting the same energy, I feel it from him,” said Lewis.
The man proceeded to tell Lewis about his education level, saying that he graduated high school early and that he was currently studying to be an engineer. Then Lewis said the conversation turned to critical race theory, which is a 40 year old intellectual theory that race is a social construct and that racism is a product of both individual bias as well as something that is embedded in legal systems.
“I said what is critical race theory? He said it teaches that all white people are violent and I said not all, small groups,” said Lewis.
During this conversation, Lewis questioned the man about space at which point he said he had seen a shapeshifter in real life. Despite his comments, Lewis described him as a "cool and calm kid."
Towards the end of their conversation, the man told Lewis he planned to go camping that night. Before they parted ways, Lewis recalls one important detail that stuck out in his mind.
“The only thing he said with any base in his voice was, ‘are you going to be here tomorrow?’ ”said Lewis.
Lewis told him he would be coming back to the supermarket around 5PM. The shooter arrived on Saturday at 2:30PM.
Being cautious, Lewis said he had lied to the man and showed up to the supermarket at 2:25PM on Saturday. When the shooting happened, Lewis was in the parking lot.
“Gunshots 30 about 30 rounds and I'm hearing echo in the store and I'm screaming because I don't have a phone and I'm screaming for people to call the police, call the police, call the police,” said Lewis.
Lewis had no idea the man he spoke with on Friday, was the gunman until he walked out of the store.
“The funny part or not so funny part is today, right now, even after everything, the kid I talked to on Friday gave me no indication at all that he was racist,” said Lewis.
Officials say the alleged shooter posted a 180 page manifesto online which included dozens of pages of antisemitic and racist memes that repeatedly cited the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory.
Following the mass shooting Gov. Kathy Hochul introduced many executive orders and new legislation including a plan to “combat domestic terrorism”.