FBI investigated Buffalo shooting suspect months earlier

AP Photo/Joshua Bessex

Due to the motivations the Buffalo shooting suspect claimed, it’s not surprising that some are viewing the horrific events of Saturday afternoon as an act of domestic terrorism.

And let’s be honest, we’ve heard for months how domestic extremism is the FBI’s top priority right now. They’re even investigating parents who get too loud at school board meetings, after all.

Yet they apparently blew it on this one.

The18-year-old man suspected of killing 10 people and injuring three others at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket on Saturday had been previously investigated for making a violent statement.

[The alleged shooter] was investigated by New York State Police last year for making a threatening statement in June, when he was a minor, a law enforcement official said. The threat was about wanting to carry out a shooting, according to a different senior law enforcement official.

A state police spokesman, who did not release a name to NBC News, said the subject of the investigation had been transported to the hospital for a mental health evaluation at the time and was not charged with a crime.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said that the suspect was evaluated and released and no further complaints were made.

“There was nothing picked up on the state police intelligence, nothing picked up on the FBI intelligence,” Gramaglia said at a news conference Sunday.

Now, in defense of law enforcement, words are just words and we shouldn’t prosecute people for saying things we don’t approve of. Even vile things.

But if he issued threats, that’s already a crime that was prosecutable. I don’t understand why authorities didn’t pursue that.

Of course, right now, we’re all benefitting from hindsight. We can always look back and see what authorities should have done with perfect clarity.

Yet on the same hand, that is to be expected when the person the FBI basically decided wasn’t a threat ends up killing 10 people in a racially-motivated attack. It’s kind of hard for that not to be a thing under such circumstances.

Meanwhile, as noted, the FBI did target parents at school board meetings.

Yeah, preventing the Buffalo shooting was really second-fiddle to parents angry about some shady stuff going on in their kids’ schools. Way to prioritize there, guys.

Look, the coming weeks are going to be filled with recriminations. We’re going to argue about what could have happened or what should have happened back and forth. That’s normal in the wake of such a shooting. I know I’m going to point out the failures of gun control in New York state and I’m likely to argue that had NYSRPA v. Bruen been decided months earlier that this might not have happened.

But for now, we are going to deal with what actually happened and not hypotheticals.

The FBI had better be ready to answer for just what the hell happened. Their investigators looked into a future mass shooter and did nothing. People are going to want to know why.

After all, people are now wondering whether the Buffalo shooting could have been stopped had the FBI dug a little deeper. They better be ready to show that they did all they could.