Former U.S. Attorney says shootings such as the one in Buffalo are hard to predict

May 16, 2022, 7:12 PM
buffalo shooter...
Investigators work the scene of a shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, May 16, 2022. While law enforcement officials have grown adept since the Sept. 11 attacks at disrupting well-organized plots, they face a much tougher challenge in intercepting self-radicalized young men who absorb racist screeds on social media and plot violence on their own. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

SALT LAKE CITY — Authorities in New York are still trying to figure out the events leading up to a shooting in a Buffalo supermarket that left 10 people dead, and three others injured on Saturday.

Police say the alleged gunman had a racist agenda when he began firing at shoppers and employees at the Tops grocery store.

Last year, the suspect had made alleged threats to his high school. After that reported threat, the suspect was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation. 

John Huber is a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah. He joined KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic, and says police can’t always anticipate such cases as the one in Buffalo.

“I think that we presume that law enforcement has all these tools and capabilities,” he said. “When in reality, they don’t. We live in a nation that values civil liberties (and) privacy to the point that we place a lot of restrictions on police, probably for good cause and good reason. But the tradeoff is that you cannot predict with certainty when something outrageous or horrific is going to happen.”

Police say the suspect allegedly wrote a 180-page manifesto prior to the incident. He had also traveled 200 miles from his home in Conklin, New York to Buffalo to commit the alleged crime. 

Huber broke down when written threats change from being legal to illegal.

“Are there thought police who can read our minds and read the minds of the criminals and terrorists and know what they are going to do next,” he said. “We don’t. We can’t do that until they act out on it.”

Huber says that the criminal will have to be in the process of committing the act before law enforcement can step in.

“It’s going to be, unfortunately, when they step forward towards committing that crime,” he said. “And hopefully, we can catch them in the process. But to predict when someone is going to travel 200 miles, strap on gear, and then walk into a grocery store, that’s almost an impossible job to ask law enforcement to do.”

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Former U.S. Attorney says shootings such as the one in Buffalo are hard to predict