As more details unfold about Payton Gendron, the suspect named in this past weekend’s mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, a new defense angle has rolled out from his relatives: COVID-19. Family members are saying Gendron likely snapped because of his “paranoia and isolation” that resulted due to the pandemic.

“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],” said Sandra Komoroff, a cousin of Gendron’s mom, Pamela, to The New York Post. “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.”

Komoroff claimed that although their family has been vaccinated against the coronavirus infection, Mr Gendron “bought into the fear of COVID.”

“That’s the only way to say it. And 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,” she said.

Her husband, Dave Komoroff, added, “In theory, [COVID] could have affected what they call the lizard brain — the part of the brain that controls aggression. I can’t say it’s impossible, but maybe that would happen one out of so many millions of times.”

Payton Gendron also allegedly had a history of violent behavior. Last year, he underwent a mental health evaluation after making threats against his high school, per reports from The New York Times. Police confirmed that last June, Payton Gendron was escorted from his high school for making threatening remarks. Shortly after, he was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation after he said that his post-graduation plans “involved a murder-suicide.”