Residents of rural Conklin, New York were stunned Saturday by the news the gunman accused in the Buffalo supermarket attack was a teenager who lived in their town.
Payton Gendron, 18, allegedly drove his parents’ car over 200 miles from Conklin to Buffalo Saturday to massacre 10 people in a racially motivated mass shooting he live streamed on Twitch.
Conklin is a sleepy community of about 5,000 people 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 I did… how can someone that had a similar upbringing do this?” said Alexis Sorbello, who was bartending at Jumbo’s the only bar in town open late Saturday.
The local bar on Saturday had an American flag hanging by the pool table and pro wrestling and a baseball game on the big screens— but no sign of the shooting that hours ago brought national spotlight to their small community.
Sorbello, who described the community as Trump country, said she first heard of the shooting from a local volunteer firefighter.
Construction worker Fran said he knew few details of the shooting but wasn’t shocked by the news.
“It could happen here because the society we’re living in is unstable,” he told The Post.
Of the town, he said many people work at a nearby distribution center for Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“There’s job opportunities here for every walk and race every type of person,” Fran said.
A woman in her 30s who did not wish 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” in the local school, she said, adding that her son attended birthday parties for Payton Gendron’s younger brother.
“They were fine. They were fantastic, ”she told The Post. “They’re close-knit. His mom was super involved with the PTA [and] helped me with a couple of different things, like we were both on board together. So when I heard the news today I was at work and doesn’t make sense at all. ”
Gendron was arrested on first-degree murder charges after he shot 13 people-11 of them black-after he posted a rambling, white supremacist manifesto online that outlined the shooting step-by-step.
“[I] never would have thought, literally never would have thought from what I had met a couple years ago that he would ever grow up to be that kid, ”she said.
She said Payton Gendron is one of three brothers who lived with their mother and father in the town, she said. He had seemed like a “fun-loving sports kid” who played baseball, she added.
Three New York State troopers were posted outside of the Gendrons’ two-story, one-car garage home. The home sits near the end of a quiet road of large single-family homes with manicured lawns but was closed off amid the police investigation.