Relatives of the suspect in the Buffalo mass shooting, that took the lives of 10 individuals, are blaming Covid "paranoia and isolation" for the reason behind the attack.
Family members of suspect Payton Gendron, 18, told The New York Post that he "likely snapped" from isolation caused by the pandemic. Gendron, the sole suspect in the case, showed clear signs of mental instability prior to going to the Tops Friendly Market and specifically targeting black people with a semi-automatic rifle.
"I have no idea how he could have gotten caught up in this. I blame it on COVID,’" Sandra Komoroff told The Post, a 68-year-old cousin of Gendron's mother. "He was very paranoid about getting COVID, extremely paranoid, to the point that his friends were saying he would wear the hazmat suit [to school]."
"And then he got COVID just a few weeks ago... He went to family functions with a respirator mask on. He totally wasn't going to get COVID, and then he got COVID. They were vaxxed to the max. I don't know if it was a bad case, I just know he caught it," Komoroff said, adding that Gendron had "bought into the fear of COVID."
"That’s the only way to say it," Komoroff said. "When you're home all day on the internet, you're missing out on human contact. There's a lot of emotions and a lot of body language you're not getting [as] when you see their face."
Gendron live-streamed the horrific attack from his personal account on the streaming service, Twitch.
Regarding his past history of violent threats, Gendron threatened to carry out a school shooting at his high school in 2021, which made him known to the FBI. Family members told The Post that he needed help but "clearly never got it."
Dave Komoroff, Sandra's husband, said that COVID could have affected "what they call the lizard brain, the part of the brain that control aggression."
"I can't say it's impossible, but maybe that would happen one out of so many millions of times," he told The Post.
An official investigation into the Buffalo mass shooting was launched on Monday and investigators say it will include finding out why several "red flags" regarding the suspect's behavior went unaddressed by authorities.
Gendron has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder. If convicted, he will face life without parole.
The Commissioner of Police for Buffalo, Joseph Gramaglia, indicated that prosecutors are planning on dealing with this incident as a hate crime, saying "The evidence that we have uncovered so far makes no mistake this is an absolute racist hate crime that will be prosecuted as a hate crime," according to Reuters.
The outlet added that, "...besides seeking a clearer understanding of the motives for Gendron's attack, authorities will focus on what could have been done to stop him, as details of the teenager's troubling behavior in high school and his online presence began to emerge."
Records further showed that Gendron spent a day in a half in an institution being evaluated for mental health back in June 2021. He was, however, released back to the general public without further action having been taken.
It has also been reported that a 180-page-long manifesto circulating over the internet, allegedly authored by Gendron referenced the "replacement theory" in which white people believe that they are victims of a demographic war with people of other skin colors.
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