As Payton Gendron planned a massacre, he wrote that he had a friend in life, his “buddy Matt”.
This is how Gendron, in his logbook, often refers to 19-year-old Matthew J. Casado, who had been a classmate for years at Conklin.
Gendron says he showed Casado the assault rifle purchased for the Buffalo slaughter.
“Went to a friend Matt today, showed him my illegal XM-15 and he said he loved it,” Gendron wrote on Feb. 11. “We talked and hung out for about 2 1/2 hours.”
On January 2, Gendron wrote that he showed Matt another weapon he intended to bring to Buffalo, a Mossberg 500 shotgun.
Gendron’s diary further reveals that in the weeks and months leading up to the attack, Casado fired the Bushmaster XM-15; Gendron would have felt comfortable doing armed “exercises” with him; and Gendron revealed to his friend that he had had suicidal thoughts.
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There is no indication that Gendron told his friend that he planned to massacre black people in a Buffalo supermarket or that he was ready to kill anyone. Nor is there any sign in Gendron’s diary that Casado questioned him about his need for new weapons and ammunition, or that Casado expressed concern over Gendron’s suicidal thoughts.
In interviews with reporters immediately after the shooting, Casado identified himself as one of Gendron’s few, if not only, friends. Casado expressed surprise that Gendron held the extreme racist beliefs that fueled his plot, and pointed out to reporters that he is part-Hispanic and dating a black woman.
Casado’s mother, Pamela Burdock, told reporters she knew Gendron like a son and could not reconcile the person she knew with the one now charged in the rampage. Neither Casado nor his mother responded to messages seeking comment on this article.
“Matt and Payton were best friends,” Tim Baker, a neighbor at the mobile home park where Casado and his mother reside, told the Daily Mail. Baker went on to say that he saw state police take items from Casado’s home shortly after the Buffalo Massacre. Among the items stolen was ammunition. Casado reportedly called the police to tell them that Gendron had left ammunition at his house the day before the shooting.
Broome County District Attorney Michael Korchak helped investigate the crime that happened 200 miles west and recently said he wanted someone to find out about Gendron’s plot and dissuades him.
“You just wish he had friends or someone who would be able to talk him out of that kind of behavior,” Korchak said. When The Buffalo News asked about Casado, Korchak said state police and the FBI were interviewing anyone with access to Gendron as May 14 approached.
“We are exploring all leads to see what led to the event,” Korchak said.
“I think law enforcement should take a good look at Matt,” said John V. Elmore, a Buffalo attorney who represents the estate of Andre Mackniel, one of 10 people killed at Tops Markets on May 14. Mackniel’s last act was to go buy a birthday cake for his 3-year-old son.
Elmore, a former prosecutor, said police should ask what Casado knew and whether he committed any overt act that aided Gendron’s plans.
Much of what is known about the Gendron-Casado friendship comes from the long diary, or diary, that Gendron kept while planning a mass shooting. He posted it in a private online chat room on discord.com, a messaging site, shortly before the rampage.
Gendron then broadcast the attack live, and the video reveals his face, as well as the rifle, which bears markings identical to the rifle he photographed for the newspaper. He remains in the Erie County Detention Center on charges of first degree murder.
Gendron, in his diary, and Casado, in comments to reporters, say they met in elementary school: “Matt has been my friend since third grade. We talk about him nowadays and I would consider him my only friend,” wrote Gendron.
Both graduated from Susquehanna Valley High School in June 2021. Casado completed a vocational and technical education program at Broome-Tioga BOCES and upon graduation won a local award, the Triple Cities Street Club Award, after being nominated by his bodywork teacher, a school district. said the spokesperson. Casado now works for Williams Toyota of Binghamton, where a person who took a message for him said he shouldn’t be blamed for Gendron’s actions.
Gendron’s diary indicates that he and Casado shared an interest in firearms. Casado, writes Gendron, was among the first to see his new Mossberg 500 shotgun, purchased in December. And 19 days after purchasing the Bushmaster XM-15 rifle from Vintage Firearms in nearby Endicott, Gendron showed the assault rifle to Casado, the newspaper said. The rifle was used to target black shoppers at Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue months later.
While the gun was technically legal in New York, Gendron would soon modify it to allow for a high capacity magazine which would allow him to fire more rounds without reloading and was prohibited by state law. Gendron acknowledged in his logbook, “The NY Safe Act did not prevent me from legally purchasing an ‘assault rifle’ and acquiring high capacity magazines.”
He wrote that he would feel safer during his killing spree because anyone with a concealed weapon would not have the same firepower.
“If the civilians I am going to kill had unlimited firearms, I would be much more afraid than I am now,” he wrote.
Gendron’s logbook indicates that he showed the “illegal” weapon to Casado on February 11. They planned to go “shoot some more” the next day.
On March 6, Gendron writes, he and Casado went to a flea market, where Gendron bought more ammunition, although there was no sign that he had shared his criminal plan with his friend.
“I had a great time with Matt,” the newspaper said. “It was a nice break in the preparation for the attack.”
For March 18, Gendron wrote that he had fired the gun into the state forest to test the full ammunition magazines and that “everything worked fine.” He went on to say that he would put different springs in the magazines the next day and added, “I think I’ll go with Matt and do some exercises.”
But there was no mention of Casado when Gendron wrote of his activities for March 19: “I shot all day, all magazines worked fine, no problems after 135 rounds. Then I spent an hour cleaning everything but the barrel.
As his preparations to kill innocent people intensified, Gendron wrote that he intended to purchase new eye and hearing protection and give the old protection to Casado. The two friends celebrated Casado’s birthday together on March 25 and played a card game on March 30, the newspaper said. On March 31, the newspaper made one of its last mentions of Casado.
Gendron had previously written that he might be mentally ill and had had suicidal thoughts. For example, he wrote in December that he “once told Matt that he was suicidal at some point in my life.”
On March 31, Gendron wrote, “I was going to kill myself in December, I think.” He added: “I remember going up to Matt one day and thinking ‘he doesn’t know this is the last time he’ll see me alive’.”