Jul 23, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Man charged with threatening to shoot Black people in Buffalo grocery store

Photo of balloons and police yellow tape in the foreground with the Tops grocery store building in focus
A memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at Tops Friendly Market on May 16 in Buffalo, New York. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Seattle-area man allegedly called a Buffalo grocery store twice this week threatening to shoot and kill Black people, according to a complaint filed Friday.

Why it matters: Federal prosecutors say Joey George, 37, called a Tops supermarket not far from the Tops store where a white gunman killed 10 Black people in a hate-fueled attack in May.

  • George is charged with two counts of making interstate threats.

Details: He allegedly spoke with an employee at the store and said he would "make the news if he shot and killed all of the Black people, including all of the women, children and babies," the complaint states.

  • George allegedly asked if the employee had cleared out the building, saying there was a chance he was already in or near the store, and claimed he had an array of assault rifles and other weapons.
  • If there were no people at the store, he allegedly said, he would travel to the location of the May mass shooting.
  • The next day, he allegedly called again, ranting about a "race war" and saying, "This is what happens in a blue state."
  • The caller had attempted to mask his number but prosecutors were able to trace it back to him by looking at phone records, per the complaint. Prosecutors say George, who is being held at a federal detention center, has a history of making racial threats using that number.

The big picture: The May attack made headlines across the nation, with the FBI calling it "an act of racially motivated violent extremism."

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