An 18-year-old white man suspected of fatally shooting 10 people in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, appears to be the latest in a line of “copycat” gunmen carrying out deadlier mass shootings inspired by previous attackers, experts warned on Sunday.
Payton Gendron, who surrendered to police on Saturday after the attack, apparently publicized a racist manifesto on the internet and broadcast the attack in real time on social media platform Twitch, a live video service owned by Amazon.com. Authorities called the mass killing an act of “racially motivated violent extremism.”
Experts say the trend of mostly young white men being inspired by previous racist gun massacres is on the rise, citing recent mass shootings, including the 2015 attack at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, a 2018 shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a 2019 attack at a Walmart in an Hispanic neighborhood of El Paso.
Adam Lankford, a criminology professor at the University of Alabama, has studied trends in mass shootings over time. His 2020 study analyzing victim data showed that the “deadliest” shootings – where more than eight people are killed – had doubled in number since 2010, compared to the previous 40 years.
“It’s clearly not just random. They are not people dreaming this up on their own. They are learning it from each other,” Lankford said.
He added: “They want to be like the previous attacker, who is a role model.”