Seattle Man Arrested For Threatening To Shoot Black Customers At Tops Supermarket In Buffalo

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Select members of the community, employees and media take a tour of the renovated Tops Friendly Market on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y.
Select members of the community, employees and media take a tour of the renovated Tops Friendly Market on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y.

A Seattle man has been arrested for allegedly threatening to murder Black people at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo. This happened just days after a different Tops location — the one where the racially-motivated May massacre occurred — opened back up to the public.

Joey David George, 37, is accused of making repeated calls to a Buffalo grocery store on July 19 and 20. He allegedly referred to himself as “Peter” and asked about how many Black people were in the store, a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Seattle explains.

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Apparently, in the first phone call George said that he would be on the news if he “shot and killed all of the Black people, including all of the women, children and babies” in the grocery store. He also told an employee he was close to or inside the location, the court papers state.

George allegedly asked if the store had been evacuated and then claimed he would instead attack the Tops where the May 14 mass shooting happened—located on Jefferson Avenue—if there were no Black people to shoot at the Elmwood store when he arrived.

He reportedly “ranted about a race war” and said, “This is what happens in a blue state.”

Tops spokeswoman Kathleen Sautter said the Elmwood store was ultimately closed and evacuated as a result of the threat and that the Buffalo Police Department were alerted. “We take every threat seriously, and our team works with local police agencies to assess threats and react accordingly,” she said.

George is also facing charges for supposedly making race-related threats to Shari’s Restaurant and Pies in San Bruno, California where he said he would shoot all Black and Hispanic patrons if the store didn’t close within 20 minutes.

Justice Department officials also believe that George made threats to a cannabis dispensary in Rockville, Md. and a Denny’s in Connecticut in September. He also allegedly threatened a dispensary in Seattle in January.