Residents of rural Conklin, New York, were stunned Saturday by the news that the gunman accused in the Buffalo supermarket attack was a teenager living in their town.
Payton Gendron, 18, allegedly drove his parents’ car more than 200 miles from Conklin to Buffalo on Saturday to massacre 10 people in a racially motivated mass shooting that he live-streamed on Twitch.
Conklin is a sleepy community of about 5,000 on the Susquehanna River, just north of the Pennsylvania border in Broome County and 10 miles south of Binghamton. The population is 95.7 percent white, according to Census estimates.
“It’s disturbing – this kid went to the same school system as me… how can someone who had a similar upbringing do that?” said Alexis Sorbello, who was bartending at Jumbo’s, the only bar in town open on Saturday.
The local bar on Saturday had an American flag hanging from the pool table and pro wrestling and a baseball game on the big screens — but no sign of the shooting that hours ago brought the national spotlight to their small community.
Sorbello, who described the community as Trump’s country, said he first heard of the shooting from a local volunteer firefighter.
Construction worker Fran said he knew few details of the shooting but was not shocked by the news.
“This can happen here because the society we live in is unstable,” he told The Post.
From the city, he said, many people work at a distribution center near Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“There are job opportunities here for every walk and run for every type of person,” Fran said.
A 30-year-old woman who did not want to be named said she knew Gendron’s family, who she described as “fantastic” people active in the community.
Gendron’s mother was “super involved” at the local school, she said, adding that her son attended Payton Gendron’s younger brother’s birthday parties.
“They were fine. They were fantastic,” she told The Post. “They are united. His mom was super involved with the PTA [and] helped me with a few different things, like we were on board together. So when I heard the news today, I was at work and it doesn’t make any sense.”
Gendron was arrested on first-degree murder charges after he shot 13 people – 11 of them black – after he posted a white supremacist manifesto online that described the shooting step by step.
“[I] I would never have thought, literally never would have thought, from what I knew a few years ago, that he would become that boy,” she said.
She said Payton Gendron is one of three brothers who lived with their mother and father in the city, she said. He looked like a “fun sports kid” who played baseball, she added.
Three New York State troopers were posted outside the Gendrons’ two-story garage house and a car. The house is near the end of a quiet street of large single-family homes with manicured lawns, but was closed during the police investigation.