- The Buffalo shooting suspect was investigated in June for writing in class about a murder-suicide.
- New York authorities didn’t impose a red-flag order that would have stopped him from buying guns.
- Online postings indicate he told authorities that he was only joking about wanting to kill people.
The 18-year-old white gunman suspected of killing 10 people in Buffalo on Saturday was investigated for making a threatening statement in school less than a year ago.
However, according to multiple media reports, New York authorities did not impose the state’s red-flag law on the suspect, which could have stopped him from purchasing the semiautomatic rifle he was accused of using in the racially-motivated massacre.
The law, which was enacted in 2019, is meant to keep guns away from people who are at a high risk of using them to hurt others or themselves. It allows police officers, district attorneys, family or household members, and school administrators to request quick court intervention if they believe someone poses a gun threat.
According to CBS News, school officials reported the suspect under the law to the New York State Police in June after he made a threatening comment in class about a murder-suicide.
The suspect wrote that he wanted to commit the act when asked in an assignment what he would do after graduating high school, per The New York Times.
According to CBS, he was later cleared following a mental evaluation, said Kathy Hochul, New York’s governor. State police told The Times that it had not sought a red-flag order against the suspect.
However, online postings made by the suspect in the weeks before the shooting indicate that he lied to authorities by telling them he had just been joking about the murder-suicide, The Times reported.
“I got out of it because I stuck with the story that I was getting out of class and I just stupidly wrote that down,” the suspect wrote, per The Times. “That is the reason I believe I am still able to purchase guns. It was not a joke, I wrote that down because that’s what I was planning to do.”
Hochul has called for an investigation into whether the authorities involved had followed protocol, per CBS.
“There was nothing that flagged that he wouldn’t be able to — from that encounter, at the time — be able to go into a store and purchase a gun,” she said, per the outlet. “Now, we need to question that, as well. There’s a lot of layers here that we need to get to the bottom of and find out if changes need to be made.”