Two recently announced lawsuits claimed that various businesses and individuals played a role in enabling a gunman’s racist attack Buffalo Mass Shooting in New York. The attack resulted in the death of 10 Black people. The lawsuits, filed by Everytown Law in Buffalo’s state court, suggest that companies like YouTube, Reddit, and a body armour manufacturer, along with others such as a local gun shop and the gunman’s parents, contributed to making the attack possible. The lawsuits were initiated by a survivor group and the son of one of the victims, who continued to experience emotional distress more than a year after the tragic incident. Everytown Law is associated with Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund.
“I still live with those images every day. It’s a part of my life. For the rest of my life, I will have it in my mind,” mentioned Fragrance Harris Stanfield during a press conference. She was working at Tops on that day. She’s one of the 16 workers and survivors taking legal action in one of the cases.
The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of Wayne Jones, the son of Celestine Chaney. She was shopping with her older sister for strawberry shortcake ingredients and tragically lost her life.
Legal Claims and Allegations in Buffalo Mass Shooting Lawsuits
When Payton Gendron was 18, he entered the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo on May 14, 2022, and started shooting. His actions resulted in the deaths of 10 Black individuals and left three others injured. After researching online to select his target, he drove 200 miles from his home in Conklin, New York.
The lawsuits allege that the defendants actively aided the shooter by providing motivation, equipment, or knowledge.
RMA Armament’s involvement comes from their provision of the body armour worn by the shooter, Gendron, during the attack. Vintage Firearms of Endicott, New York, specifically stands out for selling the weapon utilized in the assault. The lawsuit contends that Mean LLC developed a gun lock that could be effortlessly removed, enabling the shooter to bypass New York laws prohibiting assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.
YouTube, along with its parent companies Alphabet Inc. and Google, supposedly played a role in the shooter’s radicalization and facilitated his access to information for planning the attack. Similarly, the lawsuits suggest that Reddit actively promoted extreme content and hosted a dedicated forum for tactical gear.
As per the lawsuits, Paul and Pamela Gendron, the shooter’s parents with a history of concerning behavior, are accused of neglecting their parental responsibilities.
Everytown Law’s executive director, Eric Tirschwell, stated, “We aim to change the corporate and individual calculus so that every company and every parent recognizes they have a role to play in preventing future gun violence,” The defendants and their lawyers were contacted via calls, emails, and texts in an effort to obtain their comments.
Legal Action and Accountability Claims Against Tech Giants
A representative from YouTube expressed condolences for the victims and survivors. They mentioned that YouTube has worked hard over the years to find and remove extremist content. They collaborate with law enforcement, other platforms, and organizations to share information and practical approaches.
The person in charge of Vintage Firearms declined to provide a statement.
Gendron is currently serving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole after admitting to crimes like murder and hate-driven domestic terrorism. There’s also an ongoing hate crime case at the federal level. The U.S. Justice Department decides whether to pursue the death penalty if Gendron is found guilty.
After the shooting incident, several lawsuits were filed. Recently, relatives of the victims took legal action, alleging that big tech and social media companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google should be held accountable for influencing Gendron’s radicalization.