The 18-year-old suspected of targeting and shooting 10 black people in Buffalo, New York, wrote in what are believed to be his online journals that he learned how to illegally modify his rifle by watching YouTube videos. The suspect appeared to link to the videos in Discord chat logs, and the videos were still available on YouTube on Thursday night – five days after the shooting.
Some of the videos appear to violate YouTube’s community guidelines prohibiting videos that show how to install gun accessories like high capacity magazines.
Advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund is calling on YouTube to strengthen how it enforces its gun policies in response to logs and videos.
“Technology platforms, such as YouTube, have a responsibility to users and the general public to ensure that posts do not incite violence or promote extremist content,” the group wrote Thursday evening. in a letter to YouTube.
The letter was also sent to the New York Attorney General, who announced an investigation into the role tech platforms may have played in the shooting. The letter did not specifically mention YouTube.
In December, an NBC News investigation found dozens of YouTube videos with step-by-step instructions on how to make “ghost weapons” not found at home, despite a company policy banning such videos. In February, five Democratic senators sent a letter asking YouTube to better enforce its gun policies.
“The policies are there, but they’re not enforcing them,” said Justin Wagner, Everytown’s director of investigations. “They’re swimming around with videos that show how to modify a gun to fire faster and do more damage. These aren’t hard to find – anyone can put terms in the search bar and find them.
YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the videos.
The prime suspect in the shooting, Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, New York, appears to have kept a detailed diary of his plans for the attack on the Discord chat platform under the username Jimboboiii – the same name he is accused of using to live-stream the fatal shooting on a separate platform, Twitch.
Law enforcement officials have confirmed that the suspect maintains and uses accounts on Twitch, Discord, and Steam.
On January 11, the Discord account posted a link to a YouTube video that showed how to install a magazine lock, which makes an AR-15 style rifle legal in New York without special registration by locking the magazine in place to prevent a fast reload. .
Two minutes later, the video shows how to remove the magazine lock with a specific drill.
It appears that the user referred to the video to remove the magazine lock from his own pistol.
“Same fixed magazine version on vintage firearms, says you have to pierce it to get it,” the user believed to be the suspect wrote under the link. “The Speedout drill bit on the hole and it will come out right away.”
Eight days later, on January 19, the user wrote in the chat logs about buying a Bushmaster XM-15. An image accompanying the post shows the rifle, with a red magazine catch, sitting next to a drill and the same items mentioned in the YouTube video.
In the following image, the magazine has been removed. And in the next, the rifle features a detachable extended magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds at a time – illegal in New York State.
The user appeared to post at least one other video that demonstrates how to remove a state-mandated magazine lock. Another video he linked to describes how to install a magazine release to quickly reload a rifle.
The shooter in Saturday’s shooting at Tops Friendly Market reloaded at least once, officials said.
One of the suspect’s last Discord posts before the attack shows what appear to be three high-capacity magazines in his driver’s side door pocket.
In all, the suspect linked to 13 YouTube videos related to guns, body armor or shooting tactics, according to NBC News’ review of his Discord account.
Many videos fit YouTube guidelines perfectly.
For example, one of the videos – which doesn’t appear to violate YouTube policies – shows how to film through car safety windows. It has over a million views.
“The glass at Top is probably not safety glass, so it should behave live [sic] a front windshield I think,” the suspect wrote under the link. “The bullet will penetrate with some deformation but will still have enough energy to penetrate flesh and such.”
The live stream of the attack and photos from the scene show that several bullets were fired into the store through the front windows.
Discord said it is doing everything it can to help law enforcement.
The suspect appeared in court on Wednesday. A prosecutor said a grand jury had issued an indictment, though it was not immediately clear what the charge was and how many counts were listed in the complaint.
The suspect was sentenced to remain in jail without bond.