The rifle used in the hate-fueled massacre at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday was marked up with the name of those killed in a deadly car attack on a Wisconsin parade, an incident that has been dubiously seized on by far-right extremists as an example of anti-white crime.
The live-streaming service Twitch confirmed that the white gunman who shot 13 people at Tops Friendly Markets—11 of them Black—posted footage of the violence. A screenshot from that video showed white writing along the black barrel guard.
One line was the misspelled name of Virginia Sorenson, a member of the “Dancing Grannies” parade troupe who was killed in the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin’s annual Christmas parade, a law enforcement source told The Daily Beast. Though less clear, the line below may be the name of another parade victim.
Buffalo authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the writing on the rifle, which also included the N-word. The Sorenson family declined to comment for this story.
Sorenson, 79, was killed with five others when 39-year-old Darrell Brooks allegedly barreled through the parade in an SUV. Brooks is Black and had a history of violence, and evidence released by prosecutors after the attack suggested he sought to inflict maximum carnage.
As The Daily Beast previously reported, far-right actors homed in on posts attributed to Brooks in which he shared antisemitic content, expressed rage toward white people and police, and support for Black Lives Matter. (A Facebook account linked to him had also expressed a lack of surprise at the not-guilty verdict for Kyle Rittenhouse, the white, self-styled vigilante teen charged with murder at a racial-justice protest in Kenosha.) They used the posts to suggest the attack on mostly white parade-goers was the targeted work of a Black extremist.
Police in Waukesha quickly dismissed the possibility that it was a planned terror attack, and there has been no evidence that the suspect in that disaster—who was apparently fleeing a domestic disturbance—intentionally targeted any ethnic group that night.
Even so, a range of far-right voices from politicians to media figures to out-and-out hate groups whipped up a frenzy about the incident. They ranged from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to fringe media commentator Andy Ngo and, according to the Anti-Defamation League, straight-up white-supremacist types.
Payton Gendron, the white 18-year-old charged with first-degree murder in the Buffalo massacre, appears to have had a robust history of racist online activity. A manifesto that circulated online, which is under investigation by law-enforcement officials, referred to explicit plans to target Black people. It also included a laudatory reference to a previous mass shooter motivated by so-called Great Replacement theory, a non-existent plot to annihilate white people.