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I-Team: Buffalo shooting suspect radicalized on websites, chat rooms

Gunman could easily broadcast on "Twitch"
Shooting Suspect Radicalized Online
Posted at 5:42 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 09:39:42-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The 7 News I-Team has learned about websites used by the alleged shooter in the Saturday attack at a Tops Friendly Markets.

Addressing the press in Buffalo, President Joe Biden talked about a need to stop the hate and false beliefs radicalized people have developed through the internet.

"But we can address the relentless exploitation of the Internet to recruit and mobilize terrorism," said Biden. "We just need to have the courage to do that, to stand up."

In his manifesto - the Tops shooter, who 7 News has chosen to not name in our coverage, admits to becoming radicalized following years spent on websites like 4chan.

The website is known as a hotbed for racism, sexism, and white nationalism. Authorities have since learned about messages posted in other chat rooms.

“Just by going to 4chan, you have the ability to see things that you shouldn’t be seeing," said cyber security expert and RIT Senior Lecturer Jonathan Weissman.

The FBI is looking at the suspect's chat room activity, citing posts last summer about body armor and guns, according to ABC News.

The shooter could have hid his identity in the time leading up to the attack, potentially limiting law enforcement's ability to preemptively stop an attack.

“It’s very possible to mask your IP address and make your communications appear to come from another location," said Weissman.

The gunman live streamed the shooting on a website called Twitch. It’s as easy as opening up your phone and pressing “stream," before a broadcast can be seen around the globe.

“Other streaming sites require a certain number of followers before you can start a live stream. Twitch has no such requirement," Weissman added.

If you try to visit the shooter's Twitch page today, you'll see a message saying the channel is unavailable due to a violation of community guidelines.

He broadcasted live for two minutes before the video was taken down - considerably faster than the 17 minutes Facebook took to remove the New Zealand 2019 shooting that the Buffalo shooter referenced.

But by that point the video was quickly saved and re-posted on sites across the internet.

In a statement to 7 News, Global Head of Trust and Safety for Twitch Angela Hession wrote, “we are putting all of our company's resources toward stopping any rebroadcasts on twitch, supporting law enforcement's investigations, and working with other tech companies through "gifct" to prevent this and any related content from spreading on other services.”