Family members of the alleged Buffalo shooter are trying to blame Covid for 18-year-old Payton Gendron’s racially-motivated shooting rampage last weekend that claimed the lives of 10 people. Relatives suggested to the New York Post that the boy likely snapped due to paranoia and isolation that developed throughout the pandemic.

Sandra Komoroff, a cousin of the shooter’s mother, expressed her disbelief in Gendron’s attack, saying, “I have no idea how he could have gotten caught up in this. I blame it on Covid.”

“He was very paranoid about getting Covid, extremely paranoid, to the point that – his friends were saying – he would wear the hazmat suit [to school],” Komoroff added. “And then he got Covid just a few weeks ago… He went to family functions with a respirator mask on. He totally wasn’t going to get Covid – and then he got Covid.”

“They were vaxxed to the max,” said Komoroff about the family.

Komoroff’s husband, Dave Komoroff, suggested that Covid affected “the lizard brain – the part of the brain that controls aggression.”

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“I can’t say it’s impossible, but maybe that would happen one out of so many millions of times,” Dave said.

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However, prior to the teen’s Covid diagnosis, he had already been exhibiting signs of violence and mental unwellness. A year ago, Gendron threatened to shoot his high school classmates either at graduation or afterward, as reported by a school official. This threat prompted a state police investigation and resulted in Gendron being referred for a mental health evaluation and counseling.

While he was taken to the hospital for the psych evaluation, he was released just a day and a half later.

 

The alleged shooter had also written and released a manifesto indicating that he began to plan his supermarket attack back in January. Also detailed in the 180-page manifesto was his racist philosophy and his specific plans for the supermarket massacre. The teen attributed his radicalization to “extreme boredom” during the pandemic, leading to his participation in an extremist message board called 4chan where he was exposed to their radicalizing, racist propaganda.

Despite the violent threats and new online obsessions, his family insists to have had no suspicions of his violent intentions or his radicalized white supremacist views.

“I don’t know where he went online – the dark web, or wherever – but apparently he got into some nasty stuff,” said Dave. “He’s smart enough to get into dangerous stuff online, which maybe the average person wouldn’t know how to get into.”

Payton Gendron’s arrest following his supermarket shooting spree

In regards to Gendron’s violent threats against his high school last year, Dave isn’t sure if the teen’s parents took much action to address the mental stability of their son. “My question is, and I don’t know the answer either, but did they do something?” Dave said. “The parents are well-to-do. Did they put him in some kind of therapy? Because when they get the civil lawsuit, that’s what’s going to come out. Someone’s gonna ask, ‘What did you do last year after this incident?’ They’ll ask the parents, ‘What did you do? What did you do to help this kid?'”

Dave maintains that he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary about the boy, saying, “I’m trying to figure out the dysfunction, and I just can’t. We were at his graduation. He’s an 18-year-old kid. I said, ‘Congratulations.’ He said, ‘Thank you.’ I said, ‘What do you intend to do?’ He said, ‘Be an engineer like my mom and dad.'”

Sandra also can’t figure out what went wrong with Gendron, saying, “It is a good family, a very good family… I’ve never heard a racist comment from him, from his parents. It’s almost like he just snapped. Something in him broke.”

Cath and Jerry Kozlowski, friends of Gendron’s parents, also told the New York Post that they were shocked to hear of the boy’s horrific actions. “When I first heard that this happened … I actually had a different picture in my mind of who the family was — some family living in a trailer park someplace in the outskirts, the family with their AR-15s,” said Jerry, adding that the Gendrons just seem like “an average American family.”

Payton Gendron (right) with his parents, Paul and Pamela

While it’s unclear if the parents suspected anything of this magnitude from their son, Payton’s personal diary chat log revealed that he had been consciously averting any suspicions.

“I lied to them for months now,” he wrote about his parents on May 5. “I’ve been lucky at manipulating their emotions to blame themselves for my strange behavior. If only they knew.”

Gendron has been charged with first-degree murder, and federal prosecutors are currently contemplating hate-crime charges.

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