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The white supremacist Buffalo supermarket shooter had only two close friends – a Hispanic man and his black girlfriend, DailyMail.com has learned.
And Payton Gendron would spend much of his spare time with Matt Casado and Skylar McClain at Casado’s mobile home.
‘I just wish I had never met him,’ Skylar, 19, told DailyMail.com in an interview. ‘He is a disgrace.
‘I always thought he liked me because I was Matt’s girlfriend. He was never mean to me. He never did anything that made me think that he was racist.’
Skylar McClain and boyfriend Matt Casado, both 19, are shocked that their friend went on a shooting rampage, killing 10 in a Buffalo supermarket
‘He was never mean to me. He never did anything that made me think that he was racist,’ Skylar, 19, told DailyMail.com
Neighbor Tim Baker told DailyMail.com: ‘This whole thing just doesn’t make sense given who his friend is’
She said she had known him since sixth grade but only started to speak to him last December because he hung out with her boyfriend.
Gendron, Casado and McClain all attended Susquehana Valley High School in Conklin, New York, and all graduated last year.
‘I didn’t know he was a racist and whole-heartedly believed he was a good kid till Saturday,’ said Casado.
‘After 11th grade he was considered weird because he did not talk much and none of his other friends wanted to spend time with him.’
Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, NY, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. He is being held without bail and faces life in prison. He is due back in court on Thursday
Gendron, 18, drove 200 miles from his home in Conklin, near the New York/Pennsylvania border to Buffalo and went on a shooting rampage in a Tops Friendly supermarket, killing 10 and wounding two more.
He was captured by fast acting police and is said to have put his weapon to his own neck before cops persuaded him to put it down.
Police believe he picked that store because it is in a predominantly black area of Buffalo. Of the 12 people he shot, 10 were black.
After the shooting, law enforcement discovered a 180-page manifesto that Gendron posted online and set to go live shortly before he started his drive north.
At the heart of his writings is the racist theory that whites are being replaced by non-whites, who must be driven from the country or slaughtered. Most of his vitriol was aimed at African-Americans and Jews.
As DailyMail.com exclusively revealed, he aimed his gun at a white manager at the store, but walked away apologetically when he realized he was white.
Casado, 19, said Gendron had stopped by his mobile home on Friday, the day before the massacre, and dropped off five boxes of 5.66 mm high-caliber ammunition, a high-powered rifle and two additional boxes of evidence.
‘I was infuriated because he thought my house was a storage unit because he said he had to rearrange his house.’
Casado’s mother Pamela Burdock insisted he move the boxes into her nearby trailer because she didn’t want them. around teens who might visit her son.
‘I told him to put them inside my front door to keep it away from the other teens. ‘They are teenagers, they’re idiots, their brains are not developed,’ she said half-jokingly.’
Law enforcement personnel searched the accused gunman’s Conklin home on Sunday, as well as a shed on the property.
A bicycle and lawn mower are removed from the shed at Gendron’s home while authorities executd their search warrant on Sunday
A newspaper with all the details of the Buffalo shooting was delivered to Gendron’s parents home in Conklin, New York
Peyton Gendron’s handprint from when he was around four-years-old is enshrined in concrete In the front yard of his parents’ home in Conklin
Burdock described Gendron as ‘like my other child.’
‘I loved Payton. I am heartbroken by this,’ she said.
Casado, who works at a car dealership, said he spent much of his time with Gendron playing video games such as Minecraft, Roblox and Rocket League.
‘These aren’t shooting games and I know Payton’s parents wouldn’t let him play shooting games at his house, which I respect them for.
But he said he and Gendron went target shooting once a month. ‘‘He would go more often by himself though,’ Casado added.
Casado said he got a call on Saturday afternoon telling him that his friend was the only suspect in a tragic mass shooting.
‘I was heading back from the grocery store. By the time I got home police were already there.’
The cops took the five boxes of ammo, he said. ‘My dad and I went to the state police barracks and gave them a full rundown of everything we knew.’
Casado’s neighbors who knew Gendron said he never showed any hint of racial animosity.
‘Payton was over here all the time with Matt,’ said next-door neighbor Tim Baker, whose teenage son also attends the high school.
‘Matt’s half-Hispanic and his girlfriend is black,’ Baker added. ‘We know her because she’s here every day.’
‘This whole thing just doesn’t make sense given who his friend is, and who his girlfriend is,’ he continued. ‘He never once showed any aggression toward his best friend or his girlfriend, as far as I could tell.’
‘I loved Payton, he was like my other child. He was respectful to me. It is breaking my heart that he did this,’ said Pamela Burbank, the mother of the shooter’s best friend
Gendron, Casado and McClain all attended Susquehana Valley High School in Conklin, New York, and all graduated last year
Suspected gunman Payton Gendron is taken into policy custody outside the Tops Friendly supermarket in Buffalo on Saturday
Buffalo shooter Payton Gendron is pictured at his arraignment hearing Saturday night, where he appeared barefoot and in a paper outfit
Baker said he is convinced that Casado knew nothing of Gendron’s plans to shoot up the supermarket. He said it didn’t seem particularly odd as ‘everyone’ in the small town of 5,000 people owns at least one gun.
‘I saw Matt after he heard about it. He was completely distraught. He couldn’t even put together a full sentence.
‘He clearly didn’t know Payton could do something like this.’
Another male friend of Casado’s told DailyMail.com that he would sometimes join Payton and Casado at a shooting area in Pennsylvania, most recently a few months ago.
‘He was a good shooter,’ said the friend, who asked not to be identified. ‘He always had a blank face, not much emotion out of him.’
The friend said he too learned about the FBI raid of Casado’s family home, and that Payton had dropped off the ammo beforehand. The friend, however, said Payton never told Cassado why he wanted to leave it.
‘He was curious, but not curious enough to ask questions,’ the friend said. ‘He’s flabbergasted. And the fact that he found out his friend was a white supremacist, that’s putting his head through a loop.’