A manager at the Buffalo Tops supermarket asked the suspect to leave the store the night prior to the attack. Shonnell Harris Teagues says that she saw Payton Gendron sitting on a bench outside of the grocery store for hours the day before Saturday’s (May 14) shooting, reports ABC News.
After Gendron entered the store that Friday evening, he was asked to leave after he appeared to be bothering customers. At the time, he complied. Teagues details seeing him return to the store the following day dressed in the same camouflage attire.
“I see him with his gear on and his gun and how it was all strapped on,” she said. “I [saw] all the other bodies on the ground. It was a nightmare.”
Another shopper says that he spoke with Gendron the day before for roughly an hour and a half about various topics with one being critical race theory.
On Monday Rochester police revealed that they were investigating reports that the suspect had scouted several locations in the area as potential targets for his attack.
“We are aware of social media posts circulating online from the alleged shooter that purportedly indicate locations within the Rochester community,” said RPD Lt. Greg Bello said in a statement Monday. “We take these potential threats, and any other potential threat towards the safety of our community, with the utmost importance.”
Posts date back more than six months and detail how Gendron plotted his attack. They revealed that he thought of various places located in predominantly Black areas in Rochester which included several churches and a restaurant.
The Tops supermarket located on Jefferson Avenue served as community hub where it wasn’t uncommon for neighbors to catch up during visits. It was the only supermarket for miles in the area.
“It’s where we go to buy bread and stay for 15, 20 minutes because … you’re going to find four or five people you know and have a couple conversations before you leave,” said Buffalo City Councilman Ulysees O. Wingo, who grew up in the area that he now represents. “You just feel good because this is your store.”