A Seattle-area man allegedly called a Buffalo Tops supermarket location twice this week, saying “he would make the news if he shot and killed all of the Black people in the store” including women, children and babies, and later referenced a “race war,” according to federal prosecutors.
Joey George, 37, is charged with two counts of making interstate threats, including calls to a Tops supermarket in Buffalo not far from the Tops location where 10 people were killed in a racist attack in May.
According to a complaint filed in federal court in Washington on Thursday, George called a Buffalo Tops supermarket on Tuesday and asked a worker who answered the phone how many Black people were in the store. He told the worker there was a chance he was already in the store or nearby and that if he didn’t see anyone in the store, he’d travel to the Tops supermarket where the deadly shooting took place in May, the complaint states. That location had just re-opened a few days before the call was allegedly made.
George, who identified himself as a man named “Peter” in the call, said he was “a really good shot and could pick off people from the parking lot” and said he had assault rifles and other weapons, according to the complaint.
CNN has reached out to the federal public defender’s office for comment on George’s case.
Prosecutors said George then called the store again on Wednesday, ‘he ranted about a ‘race war’ and said, ‘This is what happens in a blue state.’”
George, of Lynnwood, Washington, is also charged in the complaint with calling a restaurant in San Bruno, California, on May 12 and threatened to shoot “any Black or Hispanic patrons if the restaurant did not close within twenty minutes.” George allegedly told a San Bruno police officer who called his cell phone that he wanted to “attack Black people and strike fear into the Bay Area’s Black community,” the complaint states.
Prosecutors linked the calls to George based on cell phone records for the number that made the calls, the complaint states. Prosecutors say George has a history of making racial threats using the same number, including to businesses in Maryland, Connecticut and 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 for the Western District of Washington 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.”
George is being held at a federal detention center in SeaTac, Washington, and is expected to appear in court Friday at 5 p.m. Eastern for an initial appearance.