BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A man from Lynnwood, Washington is facing federal charges after allegedly calling the Tops Markets store on Elmwood Avenue and threatening to shoot Black shoppers.
37-year-old Joey David George called the North Buffalo grocer on July 19 and 20 and threatened to shoot Black people in the store, according to the United States Attorney Western District of Washington’s office.
In his second call to the store, he allegedly went on a rant about a “race war,” the criminal complaint outlined. Law enforcement was able to trace the telephone number and identify George as the caller.
The threats against the Elmwood store came just over two months after a racially motivated mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue that killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14.
But the Buffalo threats were not the only ones George made. He was charged Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle with making interstate threats of racially motivated violence following incidents around the country.
“We appreciate the swift actions of local, state, and National Authorities,” Tops said in a brief statement.
The criminal complaint against George alleged that he told an Elmwood Avenue Tops employee over the phone on July 19 that he felt he would “make the news if he shot and killed all of the Black people” in the store, “including all of the women, children, and babies.” He allegedly told the employee there was a chance he was already in the store, or somewhere nearby.
The complaint added that George told the employee he owned assault rifles and other weapons.
George ranted about a “race war” when the called again the next day, according to the complaint. “This is what happens in a blue state,” George allegedly said, referencing the fact that New York generally votes for Democrats in statewide elections.
The Buffalo incident mirrored the other racist threats George is charged with making. According to the complaint, he also threatened restaurants in California and Connecticut and cannabis dispensaries in Maryland and Washington.
In the Maryland incident last September, according to the complaint, George repeatedly used the N-word while on the phone with a store employee, threatening he was “on his way to the business to shoot and kill [redacted].” The store had to close for two days after the threat and said it incurred $50,000 in expenses and lost business.
On the same day, George also threatened a to throw a bomb through the window of a Denny’s restaurant in Connecticut, the complaint said.
George later admitted to police that he made the Maryland threat, the complaint said, telling them he felt Black people “have it coming.” He also threatened Hispanic patrons at the California restaurant, prosecutors alleged.
George will make his initial appearance in court Friday at 2 p.m. PDT. He was being held at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington.
“The Buffalo community is trying to heal from the horrific shooting at a Tops grocery store. I cannot imagine the type of fear such hate-fueled threats engendered in those just trying to go about their daily lives,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “We cannot tolerate this kind of hate in our community and will not sit by while people seek to terrorize others across our country.”