Buffalo Shooter Cased Store the Day Before, Had an Astonishing Conversation With Witness

During the presser that we covered Sunday morning about the Buffalo mass shooting, the police noted that the shooter had been casing the store the day before the attack.


WIVB-TV’s Tara Lynch interviewed a man who allegedly encountered the shooter when he was casing the store. That man is Grady Lewis. Lewis said that the shooter had on a shirt that read “genius,” so he wanted to reach out and talk to him to see if he was a genius.

“He seemed like he was,” Lewis said. He said he also reached out to him since he didn’t seem to be from the neighborhood. He detailed how they spoke about String Theory, Critical Race theory, and the beginning of civilization — an amazing thing considering what the man planned on doing the next day.

The shooter, who told Lewis his name was Payton, said that he came there to see the countryside and was camping. Lewis bought him something to drink, then sat down and spoke to him for about an hour and 45 minutes.

Lewis, who said he often sits in front of the market, decided not to sit there on Saturday afternoon because he had heard the security guard, Aaron Salter, tell people that they can’t be lingering around outside the store. That’s why he took his drink across the street, and was there when the shooter began his attack at the supermarket. Lewis said that he heard the shooting and knew that it wasn’t firecrackers. He said he saw the shooter shooting people, and the security guard running into the store. Then the shooter came out .


“He put the gun to his head, to his chin. Then he dropped it and he took off his bulletproof vest, and then got on his hands and knees and put his hands behind his back and they arrested him,” he said.

It took police less than two minutes to arrive at the scene, he said.

“I heard at first and saw seven or eight gun-smoke shots. When he went inside, I heard at least 20 or so shots, but I couldn’t really tell because I was yelling and screaming myself for somebody to call the police. So he went in there shooting,” he said. “… I’m still kind of [shaken] up.”

Lewis credits Salter telling people not to linger around the outside of the store with saving his life because he said, otherwise, he would have been sitting on the bench where he had been the night before with the shooter. Lewis also described how the shooting ended, with the suspect holding the gun up to his neck, but then surrendering to the police and lying on the ground.

Lewis is lucky to be alive — twice.


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