An 18-year-old white man suspected of fatally shooting 10 people in a black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, appears to be the latest in a line of “copycat” gunmen carrying out deadlier mass shootings inspired by earlier shooters, experts have warned. on Sunday.
Payton Gendron, who turned himself in to police on Saturday after the attack, apparently posted a racist manifesto online and broadcast the attack in real time on the social media platform Twitch, a live video service owned by Amazon.com AMZN. EITHER. Authorities called the mass murder an act of “racially motivated violent extremism.”
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Experts say the trend for most young white men to be inspired by previous armed racist massacres is on the rise, citing recent mass shootings, including the 2015 attack on a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, a shooting of 2018 at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a 2019 attack on a Walmart in a Hispanic neighborhood in El Paso.
Adam Lankford, a professor of criminology at the University of Alabama, has studied trends in mass shootings over time. His 2020 study looking at victim data showed that “deadliest” shootings, in which more than eight people die, had doubled since 2010, compared to the previous 40 years.
“Clearly it’s not just random. They are not people who are dreaming this on their own. They are learning it from each other,” Lankford said.
He added: “They want to be like the previous attacker, who is a role model.”
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Lankford’s study found that “deadliest” shootings comprised 25% of public mass shootings between 1966 and 2009, but from 2010 to 2019 they increased to 50% of public mass shootings, where there was “direct evidence that the perpetrator was influenced by another specific person.” attacker or attackers”.
Lankford said the rise in these copycat mass murders has a specific trend: Gunmen are inspired by details from the personal lives of previous mass shooters. “It’s not repeating the incident that inspires them. It is the intimate details of their lives that promote influence,” he said.
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Lankford said one way to try to combat the rise in such hate crimes is for the media to avoid publishing details of the shooters’ personal lives.
Hate-motivated mass shootings and fame-seeking perpetrators have risen rapidly since 2015, according to an analysis by The Violence Project, which tracks mass shootings in the United States.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks extremist and hate groups, told Reuters on Sunday that the Buffalo gunman “had a substantial online history in niche and toxic online communities.”
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“From what she wrote online, by her own account, she became radicalized through participation in these forums,” Susan Corke, director of the SPLC Intelligence Project, said in an emailed statement.
The SPLC said that while it had not yet seen any evidence of the attacker’s affiliation with a specific racist or far-right group, there were red flags.
“He talked about creating a gun cache and asked detailed questions about bulletproof vests on a Discord channel dedicated to gun culture. He also posted about allegedly killing a cat and dismembering it. He appears to have posted detailed plans for an attack two weeks ago and posted frequently after that about planning for it,” Corke added.
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The SPLC said it had obtained a transcript of the suspect’s Discord chat log, adding that they have “high confidence” when questioned about its authenticity. Reuters was unable to independently authenticate the posts.
Social media and streaming platforms like Twitch, which said it took down the broadcast of Saturday’s shooting after less than two minutes, have struggled with policing violent and extremist content for years.
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The live nature of broadcasts makes it particularly difficult to moderate them, as streaming platforms do not have time lags like television broadcasts. Facebook has tried to address the issue of live violence in 2019 after allowing 17 minutes of live streaming of a mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, before removing it. Now has a one-hit policy that temporarily restricts users after breaking a rule.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Sunday that the broadcast should have been removed more quickly and that she would address the matter with social media platforms.
Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has also urged social media companies to address and track extremism on their platforms.
(Reporting by Tim Reid in Los Angeles and Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Aurora Ellis)