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Broome County district attorney confirms Buffalo shooting suspect talked about murder-suicide

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Megan Zerez
/
WSKG News
Susquehanna Valley High School in Conklin, NY. State police brought the suspected gunman to a hospital for evaluation after he made comments about murder-suicide in his school last June.

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) Local officials confirmed Tuesday that the gunman suspected of killing 10 people and injuring three others in a mass shooting in Buffalo on Saturday made comments about murder-suicide at his high school last year.

Broome County District Attorney Mike Korchak said the alleged shooter, Payton Gendron, did not make any direct threats to his school or other students in his hometown of Conklin, nor did he mention any firearms.

New York State Police brought Gendron to a hospital for evaluation after he made the comments last June. He was released, returned to school and graduated without incident.

Korchak said the Susquehanna Valley Central School District and the New York State Police followed the procedures and protocols in place. He reached out to Erie County’s district attorney to offer aid in their prosecution.

Korchak will hold a press conference in Binghamton on Wednesday.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she will introduce new gun control legislation this week to close loopholes that could have allowed the suspect to purchase a gun in Endicott.

“When there’s early warning signs that someone could do harm to themselves or others, there has to be an examination as to whether or not there are guns in the house that this person has access to,” Hochul told WPIX on Monday.

The state’s red flag law is supposed to prevent people who are a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a gun.

“Given the fact that the shooter was in fact, brought in for a psychiatric evaluation after threatening his school, how was he able to purchase a gun? And that’s the question we’re going to try to get to the bottom of,” said Southern Tier Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo.

The Democrat said once legislators identify where gun laws need to be strengthened, they can begin to pinpoint new measures to introduce.

According to Lupardo, more mental health services should be among legislators’ priorities. Few mental health services are available for young adults and children in Broome County, the assemblywoman said.

“Over 20 years ago, I conducted a roundtable discussion on preventing youth violence in response to the Columbine shooting, and one of the things that came out of that is that we needed more mental health services for children,” Lupardo said. “Right now in our community, we have less than we did 20 years ago.”

The findings of the hospital evaluation are unclear, but Lupardo said leaders should look at how they can better protect vulnerable people from extremist views.