BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — What was found inside the Buffalo Tops mass shooting suspect's home? The official answer to that question is being kept hidden from the public.
For two months, the 7 News I-Team has been working to get information about the mass shooting, at Tops on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo. We've filed a number of Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests with many different agencies. We're asking government agencies to disclose public documents, records and videos to give you a better picture of how this could have happened.
That includes the search warrants executed by New York State Police. State Police were working as a partner — and had jurisdiction in the search of the suspect's home in Conklin, N.Y. — with the FBI and other agencies.
In the days after the shooting, on May 19, the I-Team formally requested "any and all search warrants connected to [the suspect] and [his home at] 14 Amber Hill Road Conklin, NY 13748."
Now, two months later, State Police have responded.
We performed a diligent search of our files for records responsive to your request. The records we located are currently sealed by court order and are therefore exempt from disclosure.
It is unclear what court ordered these documents be sealed. The Erie County District Attorney's office would not comment because of a gag order. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office says the office does not comment on ongoing investigations. We've also reached out to State Police, the State Attorney General's office for information. None of those agencies have returned our request for comment.
However, on Thursday, July 14, a federal indictment was handed up by a grand jury. The indictment lists evidence — seized at the suspect's home by law enforcement:
- Plastic bag with five rounds of ammunition
- Sling and ammunition accessories
- Ammunition boxes/medical supplies
- Speed loader for M4 magazine
- Firearm accessories
- Plastic bucket with shotgun shells (236 total)
Back on June 15, a federal complaint was filed in the Western District of New York. From that complaint, we learned investigators executed a search warrant at the suspect's house on May 15. That was one day after the shooting. They say they found a handwritten note in which the suspect apologized to his family for committing “this attack” and that he “had to commit this attack” because he cares “for the future of the white race.”
The special agent who filed this complaint explained the suspect signed the note and addressed it specifically to his family.
It goes on to explain, "the FBI also recovered from [the suspect's] bedroom a receipt for the purchase of a candy bar at the Tops on March 8, 2022, and handwritten sketches of what appear to be the interior layout of the Tops." Investigators say he visited the Tops several times before carrying out the attack on May 14. It also says "two sketches of the interior layout of the store" were created and believed to be the sketches found in the suspect's bedroom.
The federal complaint also explains Buffalo police "officers recovered a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, a loaded bolt-action rifle, and three loaded rifle magazines from the [blue Ford] Taurus" that investigators say the suspect drove to the supermarket.
Law enforcement, according to the federal complaint, also "recovered a laptop computer in [the suspect's] Taurus, which contained a draft working copy of the manifesto. Additionally, law enforcement recovered a version of the self-described manifesto on the internet."
According to the complaint, the alleged motive for the shooting "was to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks."
Had New York State Police been able to release documents, showing what was seized with the search warrant for the suspect's home, all of this evidence would have likely been included.
The suspect is being held at the Erie County Holding Center on federal charges along with a number of state charges. He is due in federal court on Monday for arraignment on the indictment.