Fifteen people accepted avowed white supremacist Payton Gendron’s invitation to a private chatroom — chilling named “Happening: This is not a drill” — where he allegedly spent months meticulously planning his attack in Buffalo that killed 10 people.
The 18-year-old invited people on the Discord app 30 minutes before the massacre, CNN reported.
The chatroom included months of posts written by an author who identified himself as Gendron, describing his twisted views and outlining how he’d scouted the Tops Friendly Markets in a crazed plan to kill as many black people as possible.
A person with knowledge of Discord’s internal investigation told the network that the invitees – and others with whom they may have shared access — would have been able to view his posts before the massacre.
The Washington Post reported that 15 people had accepted the invitation, citing a person with knowledge of the messaging platform’s probe.
A copy of the invite reviewed by the paper said the accepted users also could view a video stream of the shooting through a link to an account on Twitch, a video streaming service where Gendron allegedly broadcast video of his attack.
It was unclear whether Discord can determine exactly what the 15 users did after they accepted the invitation, the source told the paper.
Discord officials are now investigating Gendron’s network on the app to determine if he acted alone or was supported by his online connections, a person with knowledge of the probe told the outlet on condition of anonymity.
A Discord rep declined to comment to the paper about the invitees and referred it to a Wednesday statement that said the company was assisting law enforcement.
“Hate has no place on Discord and we are committed to combating violence and extremism,” the spokesperson told The Washington Post.
A Discord rep also told CNN: “What we know at this time is that a private, invite-only server was created by the suspect to serve as a personal diary chat log.
“Approximately 30 minutes prior to the attack, however, a small group of people were invited to and joined the server. Before that, our records indicate no other people saw the diary chat log in this private server,” the spokesperson added.
Thousands of entries in the chat amounted to a months-long online diary, which was later shared more widely on 4Chan, an online message board that Gendron said fostered his racist extremism.
“Every time I think maybe I shouldn’t commit to an attack I spend 5 min [on] /pol/, then my motivation returns,” Gendron wrote in an entry, referring to a 4Chan political section.
Gendron has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder in the deadly shooting in Buffalo, a city 200 miles from his small, mostly white hometown.
He is accused of shooting 13 people in total during his rampage, which he livestreamed on Twitch while wearing military-style tactical gear.
On Thursday, Judge Craig Hannah remanded him into custody and adjourned the hearing after a grand jury indicted him on the murder charge.
The Erie County District Attorney’s Office declined comment pending further action from the grand jury, which could come in the form of upgraded domestic extremism and hate crime charges.
Eleven of the victims were black while two were white, authorities said.
On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office would investigate Discord, Twitch, 4chan and other platforms that the shooter “used to amplify” the rampage.
“My office is launching investigations into the social media companies that the Buffalo shooter used to plan, promote, and stream his terror attack,” she said on Twitter.
“This terror attack revealed the depth and dangers of these platforms that spread and promote hate without consequence. We are doing everything in our power to stop this dangerous behavior now and ensure it never happens again,” she added.