Report: Before Mass Shooting, 15 Accepted Suspect's Invite

They would have been able to see livestream of Buffalo shooting
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2022 4:44 AM CDT
Report: 15 People Joined Suspect's Server Before Mass Shooting
Investigators work the scene of the mass shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, NY, Monday, May 16, 2022.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Newser) – More people may have viewed the Buffalo mass shooting live—apparently without contacting authorities—than previously known. Insiders tell the Washington Post and CNN that 15 Discord users accepted the 18-year-old suspect's invitation to join a private chat room around 30 minutes before the massacre began on Sunday. The sources say the users would have been able to see suspect Payton Gendron's livestreamed video of the shooting and read months of what Discord calls a "personal diary chat log" with plans for the mass killing of Black people, as well as extensive racist rants.

According to the Post's source, it's not clear whether Discord will be able to determine exactly what the 15 users did after accepting the invitation, but the connections could help investigators learn how much support the suspect may have had from people he knew online. It's also unclear how much overlap there is between the people who received the Discord invite and the 22 people known to have viewed the mass shooting on Twitch: The invite shows that people could have joined the Twitch stream without joining the Discord server—or watched via the Discord server without clicking through to Twitch.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has authorized state AG Letitia James to investigate whether Discord and other social media companies used by the suspect are liable for "providing a platform to plan and promote violence," the AP reports. "The fact that an individual can post detailed plans to commit such an act of hate without consequence, and then stream it for the world to see is bone-chilling and unfathomable," James said Wednesday. Kyle Chayka at the New Yorker notes that the term "lone wolf" is "something of a misnomer for right-wing terrorists whose ideas and methods are being explicitly nurtured through online communities." (The suspect was jeered by a victim's relative at a court appearance Thursday.)

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