CHICAGO — The University of Notre Dame issued a statement saying it is “appalled” that the suspect in the Buffalo grocery store shooting cited an article written by one of its professors in his diatribe before he killed 10 people.
Payton Gendron, 18, has been charged with murder and is being held without bail.
In 2013, John Gaski, associate professor at Notre Dame, wrote a commentary titled “A Discussion on Race, Crime and the Inconvenient Facts,” where he makes claims of race-based rape and crime statistics but fails to cite where he got his information.
A 180-page diatribe allegedly written by Gendron refers to one of the claims in Gaski’s article and links to it. The diatribe, which officials are working on to verify its authenticity, repeatedly cites the “great replacement theory,” a conspiracy theory that falsely claims white people are being replaced.
On May 14, Gendron allegedly went to a supermarket in a majority Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, and opened fire, killing 10 and injuring three, most of them Black. The mass shooting is being investigated as a hate crime.
The Notre Dame connection came to light after comedian Liz Hynes, a writer on the “Last Week Tonight” show, posted on Instagram and Twitter about the article.
In the article, Gaski wrote, “Because the number of white-on-black rape is so low nationally in any given year, the ratio ranges from 100-to-1 to infinity.” This is the part cited in the diatribe.
Gaski does not mention that rape and sexual violence are difficult to measure because the crime is underreported. He also provides only one citation throughout the article.
The article was written after George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012, and it accuses prominent leaders, including Al Sharpton and Barack Obama, of “race-baiting.”
“This petty, intellectually dishonest piece, dripping in racial animus, has forever linked the University of Notre Dame to a white supremacist murderer,” Hynes wrote on her social media platforms three days after the mass shooting. “No marketing on earth can undo that. But an acknowledgment would be a start.”
On Thursday, Joel Curran, the university’s top spokesperson, issued the following statement from the university: “We are appalled that a 2013 article by John Gaski, an associate professor at Notre Dame, was cited by the perpetrator of the heinous murders of innocent people in Buffalo. Whatever professor Gaski’s intentions, we deeply regret that his words were used to support a doctrine of racial hatred. We urge all, at Notre Dame or elsewhere, to speak and act in ways that never give harbor to hatred and violence.”
On Friday, Gaski issued his own statement, published on the university’s news webpage.
“It is sobering that a portion of an article I wrote in August 2013 was cited in the document composed by the Buffalo shooting suspect,” Gaski wrote. “It was, of course, never my intent to in any way incite violence — in fact, just the opposite. I also am appalled and deeply distressed that the information I provided is associated in any way with this young man’s horrific actions.”
An attempt to reach Gaski by phone was unsuccessful. He is listed as an associate professor of marketing in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business directory. In response to a request for comment, a Mendoza college spokesperson referred the Chicago Tribune to the school’s published statement.
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