Seattle man accused of threatening to kill Black people in Buffalo grocery store, court records show

Joey David George, 37, allegedly threatened to shoot and kill "all of the Black people, including all of the women, children and babies.”

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Federal charges have been lodged against a Seattle-area man who phoned a Tops Friendly Markets store in Buffalo, New York, with threats to fatally shoot Black patrons, just two months after a racist massacre took 10 Black lives at a different Tops location.

37-year-old Joey David George allegedly first called the store on July 19, identifying himself as “Peter” and asking about the number of African Americans shopping there. He claimed he was nearby and that if he “shot and killed all of the Black people, including all of the women, children and babies,” he would get on the news, according to court documents reviewed by The Washington Post.

Investigators work the scene of a shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, May 16, 2022. While law enforcement officials have grown adept since the Sept. 11 attacks at disrupting well-organized plots, they face a much tougher challenge in intercepting self-radicalized young men who absorb racist screeds on social media and plot violence on their own. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The federal court documents filed in Seattle accuse George of adding that if no Black people were there at the Elmwood Avenue location, he would instead target the recently-reopened Jefferson Avenue location where Payton Gendron, 18, shot and killed 10 Black people in a racially-charged mass shooting on May 14.

In an alleged follow-up call the next day, George “ranted about a race war,” and said, “This is what happens in a blue state,” according to the Post.

Kathleen Sutter, a spokesperson for the market chain, told the outlet that the threat resulted in the closure and evacuation of the Elmwood store and a response from the Buffalo Police Department, adding: “We take every threat seriously, and our team works with local police agencies to assess threats and react accordingly.”

The Post reported that as of Friday, July 22 at 5:05 p.m., it did not receive an immediate response from George’s court-assigned public defender. 

People gathered outside of Tops market embrace on May 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Nick Brown, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, stated that the city of Buffalo “is trying to heal from the horrific shooting” carried out by Gendron, which resulted in the white gunman receiving several federal charges for murder and hate crimes, according to the outlet.

Brown said in the statement that he “cannot imagine the type of fear such hate fueled threats engendered in those just trying to go about their daily lives,” per the Post.

George has reportedly made racist threats to establishments in the past, allegedly calling a Shari’s Restaurant and Pies location in San Bruno, California on May 12 and threatening to shoot Black and Hispanic shoppers if the store wasn’t closed in 20 minutes, according to the outlet.

Speaking with a San Bruno police officer, George, identifying himself as “Tony Sumorrah” during that incident, reportedly said that Black people were “subhuman” and that his motive was to instill fear in Bay Area-based Black people.

Officials with the Justice Department additionally claim that in September 2021, George threatened a marijuana dispensary in Rockville, Maryland and a Denny’s in Connecticut, in addition to a dispensary in Seattle in January, the Post reported.

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