Former high school classmates of Payton Gendron, the suspect in this weekend’s fatal Buffalo grocery store mass shooting say the gunman displayed signs of strange behavior toward the end of his time at Susquehanna Valley High School in Conklin, New York.
One former classmate of the suspect, Nathan Twitchwell, told the New York Times about a day when Gendron arrived at school in full HAZMAT gear, typically worn in situations where workers will be coming into contact with potentially hazardous materials. “He wore the entire suit: boots, gloves, everything,” said Twitchwell.
In June 2021, shortly before the end of the year, a staff member at the school reported Gendron for threatening to conduct a mass shooting either at graduation or some time shortly thereafter.
A few days before graduation, Gendron logged into a virtual economics class. One of the questions asked was, “what do you plan to do when you retire?” Gendron typed simply, “Murder-suicide.” For this, he was reported to local authorities, questioned, and taken to a local psychiatric hospital for evaluation according to state law. He was released in time for the graduation ceremony.
Another former student, Matthew Cosado, said while Gendron was typically known as a loner who got good grades, he also tended to alienate others with his odd behavior.
“Most people didn’t associate with him,” he said. “They didn’t want to be known as friends with a kid who was socially awkward and nerdy,” said Cosado. Unlike most, Cosado had spent some time with Gendron, attending flea markets together and shooting guns at local ranges. Cosado said he did not ever hear Gendron mention anything violent like a mass shooting.
In yet another potentially missed warning sign, some former classmates of Gendron’s who were in a politics class in which students made up their own fictitious country and government, say he chose to create a totalitarian government that they described as “Hitler-esque.”
Gendron has appeared in court but all charges remain sealed.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: ALBANY HERALD
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