No ‘NJ ties’ for accused NY shooter despite Lakewood online mention
Despite Lakewood and Toms River being mentioned in the “manifesto” of the suspect in the Buffalo, New York massacre, the shooter has no New Jersey ties, according to Ocean County authorities.
The 18-year-old white man who law enforcement say gunned down and killed 10 Black victims had posted a 180-page online document — packed with white supremacist, anti-Semitic and radicalized racist memes and tropes with repeated references to “replacement theory,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said.
"I can state, unequivocally, that there is no evidence that the shooter had any intention or inclination to travel to anywhere in Ocean County. Furthermore, based on what we know at this time, the shooter has no ties to New Jersey,” Billhimer announced on Tuesday.
He said he has confirmed that information with the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The local town mentions were pasted from an online article posted two years ago, Billhimer continued.
“The Ocean County Prosecutor’s High-Tech Crime Unit has been able to discern that these references to Lakewood and Toms River were copied by the shooter and incorporated into his “manifesto’ from a 2020 article written and published on the internet by a different author,” the prosecutor said in a written statement.
Billhimer added that large portions of the “manifesto” were actually copied from the 2019 rantings of the Christchurch shooter — accused of murdering 49 people at two mosques in New Zealand.
'We will remain vigilant'
“As a lifelong resident of Ocean County, I can certainly understand how the mention of two of our local municipalities in such a misguided and dangerous document could raise concern,” Billhimer continued.
He said has spoken with Lakewood Township Police Chief Gregory Meyer and Toms River Township Police Chief Mitch Little, assuring a continued, united presence of law enforcement to protect county residents.
“We will remain vigilant against acts of violence based on hate or bias. As parents, children, friends and neighbors we must continue to stand up to hate and condemn acts of violence based on the color of someone’s skin, how they worship or who they love,” Billhimer said.
Payton Gendron has been accused of intentionally choosing an area with a high concentration of Black residents, driving more than three hours and opening fire at a Tops Friendly Market grocery store on May 14.
The armed suspect was arrested, moments after the shooting, and already has been charged with murder.
“The Justice Department is investigating this matter as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that day.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited loved ones of the Buffalo massacre victims.
"What happened here is simple and straightforward terrorism. Terrorism. Domestic terrorism. Violence inflicted in the service of hate, and a vicious thirst for power," Biden said in a televised speech during his New York visit.
"Hate and fear are being given too much oxygen by those who pretend to love America, but who don’t understand America," Biden also said while in Buffalo. "To confront the ideology of hate requires caring about all people. That’s the America I know: the most diverse, multi-racial, dynamic nation in history."