Officials: Buffalo Shooter Had “No Intentions” On Traveling To Ocean County

The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office (Photo by Micromedia Publications)

  OCEAN COUNTY – Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer has released a statement saying that there is no evidence the Buffalo shooter intended on traveling to Lakewood and Toms River.

  Both towns were mentioned in a 180-page document reportedly published by the 18-year-old New Yorker accused of a mass shooting that took place May 14 in Buffalo, New York. The Lakewood Scoop published a page of the manifesto where he complains about the Orthodox Jewish community, and mentions these towns briefly.

  The suspected gunman Payton Gendron had targeted Tops Friendly Market. The incident resulted in 13 people being shot, 10 fatally. Authorities believe the attack was racially motivated.

  In the document, Gendron, who is white, details the plan of the shooting. Billhimer said the manifesto repeatedly references “replacement theory,” a conspiracy theory frequently pushed by white supremacists believing that non-whites will eventually “replace” white people. Most of the victims from the mass shooting were black.

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  Billhimer said that after taking the time to read the 180-page manifesto, there was no evidence that the shooter had any intention or inclination to travel to anywhere in Ocean County.

  “The Ocean County Prosecutor’s High-Tech Crime Unit has been able to discern that these references to Lakewood and Toms River were copied by the shooter and incorporated into his “manifesto’ from a 2020 article written and published on the internet by a different author,” Billhimer said.

  Additionally, he said that the shooter has no ties to New Jersey. This information was confirmed with the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Billhimer said.

  “As a lifelong resident of Ocean County, I can certainly understand how the mention of two of our local municipalities in such a misguided and dangerous document could raise concern. To that end, I have spoken with Lakewood Township Police Chief Gregory Meyer and Toms River Township Police Chief Mitch Little and I can assure residents of Lakewood and Toms River that although there is no implied or explicit threat to these communities, law enforcement stands ready to respond to any critical incident that may arise,” Billhimer said.

  “When, like the events in Buffalo, the shooter is motivated by hate and animus, it becomes even more difficult to fathom and process. It is imperative that we reject hate and bias in all of its insidious forms. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in Ocean County, I have made it very clear that acts of bias intimidation will not be tolerated and every allegation regarding a bias incident or crime will be investigated and, if warranted, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We will do everything in our power to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities,” Billhimer said.

  “We will remain vigilant against acts of violence based on hate or bias. As parents, children, friends and neighbors we must continue to stand up to hate and condemn acts of violence based on the color of someone’s skin, how they worship or who they love… All lives have value, none of us are expendable,” Billhimer added.