A memorial for the supermarket shooting victims is set up outside the Tops Friendly Market on July 14, in Buffalo, N.Y. The Buffalo supermarket where 10 Black people were killed by a white gunman is set to reopen its doors, two months after the racist attack. (AP Photo / Joshua Bessex)

A memorial for the supermarket shooting victims is set up outside the Tops Friendly Market on July 14, in Buffalo, N.Y. The Buffalo supermarket where 10 Black people were killed by a white gunman is set to reopen its doors, two months after the racist attack. (AP Photo / Joshua Bessex)

Lynnwood man charged with racist threats at Buffalo mass shooting site

The threats to kill Black people came just two months after a white gunman massacred 10 Black people at a Buffalo grocery store.

LYNNWOOD — Federal prosecutors charged a Lynnwood man Friday with calling a New York grocery store and threatening to shoot Black people there.

On Tuesday, a man identifying himself as “Peter” called a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, near another Tops store where a white gunman shot and killed 10 Black people in May. “Peter” asked an employee how many Black people were in the store, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle. He then said he’d make the news if he killed all of them.

The man, later identified as Joey David George, told the employee there was a chance he was already in the store or nearby. But if he didn’t see anyone there, he’d go to another Tops store on Jefferson Avenue — the actual scene of the massacre, according to the charges.

George, 37, said Tuesday he could shoot people from the parking lot with an assault rifle, according to court documents.

On Wednesday, George reportedly called again, this time chanting about a “race war” and saying, “This is what happens in a blue state.”

Prosecutors in the Buffalo mass shooting case alleged the gunman’s motive was “to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks.”

“The Buffalo community is trying to heal from the horrific shooting at a Tops grocery store,” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said in a statement. “I cannot imagine the type of fear such hate fueled threats engendered in those just trying to go about their daily lives. We cannot tolerate this kind of hate in our community and will not sit by while people seek to terrorize others across our country.”

George reportedly tried to mask his phone number on these calls. But phone records show he made the calls from within a quarter-mile of his Lynnwood home, federal prosecutors allege. Before Lynnwood, licensing records show he lived in Shoreline.

Investigators believe these weren’t George’s first threats.

In May, George called a restaurant in San Bruno, California. He identified himself as “Tony” and said he’d shoot any Black or Hispanic patrons, according to court papers. He later told police he wanted to instill fear in the local Black community, who he called “sub-humans.” George said he was proud of his actions. Prosecutors noted George has ties to the Bay Area.

In September of last year, George reportedly called a Maryland dispensary and threatened to shoot Black people, using a racist slur. After the threat, the dispensary closed for the rest of the day and the following day. It also hired additional security.

In a call with Maryland police, George acknowledged making the threats.

“I felt Black people do too much and have it coming,” he reportedly told an officer. “I did it for fear.”

Prosecutors allege George also threatened a Denny’s in Connecticut, and earlier this year, a Seattle dispensary.

The Lynnwood man was charged with two counts of interstate threats, one for this week’s Buffalo calls and another for the California incident in May.

On Friday, George was held at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac. He was set to make his first court appearance Friday afternoon.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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