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FLASH ALERT: INCREASED RISK OF WHITE SUPREMACIST ATTACKS AND HATE CRIMES TOWARD MINORITY COMMUNITIES

Savannah Fellows, Stacey Casas, Jan García, NORTHCOM Team

Hannah Norton, Editor; Demetrios Giannakaris, Senior Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff

Sunday, May 15, 2022




Map highlighting the location of Buffalo, New York[1]



The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT to local law enforcement, immigrants, and the civilian population with special attention to the Hispanic, African American, and Jewish communities following a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. The shooting occurred at the Tops supermarket on Saturday, May 14, at approximately 1430 EDT. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) described the shooting as an act of “violent extremism” and is “investigating the incident as a hate crime and a case of racially-motivated violent extremism.”[2] The shooter wrote a manifesto prior to his attack justifying his racially motivated beliefs, similar to a manifesto written ahead of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings. Since the attack, members of the telegram channel that idolizes mass shooters have declared him a “saint,” likely increasing the risk of future mass shootings by individuals or groups with similar beliefs and who idolize Payton the shooter [3] and other “saints” who have committed mass shootings.[4]


CTG is on HIGH alert due to the likelihood other individuals or groups with similar beliefs might be inspired to carry out similar violent attacks on predominantly minority communities. Fear of future attacks will very likely fuel unrest among targeted communities, which will very likely lead to protests for stricter gun regulation. The manifesto indicates that New York is a prime attack location due to its “strict gun laws reducing the ability of civilians to defend themselves.”[5] It is VERY LIKELY tensions will increase between anti- and pro-gun supporters in response to this attack.


On Saturday, May 14, 2022, the 18-year-old shooter of Conklin, New York, shot and killed 10 people, wounding three others, at the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, New York.[6] He wore military gear and conducted the attack with an illegally modified Bushmaster XM-15, a military-grade assault rifle, the same weapon used during the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012.[7] The shooter managed to broadcast it on Twitch, a live-streaming platform, for approximately two minutes before the service ended his transmission.[8] While searching 4chan in May 2020, the shooter developed his white supremacist agenda in which he claimed 4chan taught him the “White race was dying out.” He continued his search on other extremist sites such as worldtruthvideos.website, dailyarchives.org, and dailystormer.cn. The shooter looked up to other white supremacists who conducted violent attacks against minorities, particularly to Brenton Tarrant.[9] Tarrant wrote a white supremacist manifesto from which the shooter sought ideas and based a lot of his manifesto.[10] He was inspired by the live stream of the New Zealand Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019. Similarities in the two manifestos involve white supremacist ideologies and violent motives, almost certainly evidencing the shooter’s idolization of that attacker.

The shooter targeted Buffalo, New York, due to its large African-American population, which he discovered from online research.[11] He was able to plan his attack utilizing internet sources which almost certainly poses a public safety concern for future attacks. A large amount of online information almost certainly left Tops supermarket shoppers vulnerable, almost certainly enabling the shooter to cause multiple casualties during his attack. With additional data available, such as the location of immigrant communities and regulations on firearms, the shooter was almost certainly able to determine the prime location, time, and weapons to use. The easy access to data and information on previous attacks, such as the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, very likely assisted the shooter with his attack strategy.

The lack of internet regulation regarding uploaded videos or online forums and websites very likely facilitated the shooter’s radicalization. Secure networks, which allow private conversations worldwide in a timely manner, almost certainly facilitate the spread of extremist ideologies, such as the white supremacism seen in the shooter’s manifesto. The shooter had very likely been in contact with other white supremacists who inspired him to commit the attack via social media chats, such as Telegram. His actions will very likely be praised in these chats, encouraging other members to commit similar attacks.

When an attack occurs, it is covered by news outlets and spread through mass social media. Individuals or groups with similar beliefs will likely seek to gather as much information from this attack as possible to use as an example. Individuals seeking to perpetrate similar shootings will very likely be motivated by the media coverage, particularly by the associated attention, and with the shooter’s message. With the shooter’s manifesto found online alongside Tarrant’s, it is very likely copycat attacks will occur in the future from other radicalized individuals. Copycat attacks will very likely follow a similar strategy by targeting minority communities and using similar weapons. Specifically, the shooter’s manifesto encourages making plans, training, forming alliances, getting well equipped, and then acting through violent attacks, very likely inspiring those with similar ideologies to act out. Even in states like New York with strict gun laws, the ability for individuals to travel to nearby states with less restrictive gun laws almost certainly increases the possibility of copycat attacks in the future. Weapons such as the Bushmaster XM-15, used in both the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and the Buffalo shooting, will likely be used again in future attacks.

The manifesto’s description of the ease in acquiring and illegally modifying guns, including the Bushmaster XM-15, will almost certainly provoke political tensions regarding gun regulation in the US. This is almost certainly due to the shooter claiming that most "law-abiding" citizens will not possess firearms during his attack due to strict gun regulations in New York.[12] Gun supporters will likely argue that the current gun restrictions make them more vulnerable and unable to counteract this type of threat. Meanwhile, anti-gun supporters will likely use this attack to petition elected officials to enact further gun regulations. Protests by both anti- and pro-gun supporters will very likely increase as the shooter’s trial takes place.

CTG assesses that the current threat climate against ethnic and religious minorities is HIGH due to the idolization of the perpetrator and increased risk of copycat attacks. Due to the controversy surrounding gun laws resulting in an increased risk of social unrest, conflict is likely to occur not only from white supremacists but also between gun supporters and those in opposition. This will almost certainly contribute to a rising number of injuries and deaths in the US.

Analysis indicates a HIGH PROBABILITY of social media being used to inspire and plan attacks in the future. Uncensored channels like Telegram and 4chan where private messaging can occur, allow for misinformation and propaganda to be easily spread, further influencing attacks. This will very likely increase the ability of copycats and other white supremacists to conduct a mass casualty attack, almost certainly aiming the location and attack time to increase the injuries and casualties.


CTG’s NORTHCOM Team recommends that local law enforcement remain on high alert and increase security personnel in the area due to the increased likelihood of copycat attacks. Law enforcement in minority-populated regions, specifically Hispanic, African-American, and Jewish-dominated communities, should also take this precaution. It is further recommended that social media, including live-stream platforms and encrypted channels such as 4chan, are increasingly monitored and flagged to find potential indicators of an individual likely to act. Some examples of these indicators include violent rhetoric and postings, specifically targeting non-Whites, or known support of the perpetrator and his manifesto. The team recommends that the details of building structure and security remain known only to security forces and personnel to which this knowledge is necessary.


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[1]Map of New York highlighting Buffalo” by Bastique licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Buffalo shooting: Ten dead in racially motivated attack at New York state store, BBC News, May 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-61452958

[3] Hereafter, he will be known as “the shooter.”

[4] CTG Threat Hunter on Telegram

[5] “You wait for a signal while your people wait for you,” p. 6

[6] Gunman kills 10 in racially motivated shooting at New York state supermarket, Reuters, May 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/ten-killed-three-wounded-mass-shooting-grocery-store-buffalo-ny-2022-05-14/

[7] First amended complaint, Koskoff Koskoff and Bieder, October 2015, https://www.koskoff.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/1501160/2020/09/Sandy-Hook-Families-Complaint.pdf

[8] 10 dead in Buffalo supermarket attack police call hate crime, AP News, May 2022, https://apnews.com/article/buffalo-supermarket-shooting-442c6d97a073f39f99d006dbba40f64b

[9] “You wait for a signal while your people wait for you,” p. 8

[10] “The Great Replacement,” https://img-prod.ilfoglio.it/userUpload/The_Great_Replacementconvertito.pdf

[11] “You wait for a signal while your people wait for you,” p. 6

[12] the shooter ’s manifesto, pg. 58

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