May 17, 2022

Authorities have identified 18-year-old Payton Gendron as the suspect in a May 14 massacre at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, that left 10 people dead and others injured.

Unfounded false flag claims often follow mass shootings in the United States, and this one is no different.

Among them is a conspiracy theory that suggests images taken of Gendron after the shooting show not one but two crisis actors.

“Went from ginger haired ‘fit’ person to a black haired heavy dude,” one May 14 post says. “In less than one hour.”

The post shows two photos. One is of Gendron in a white paper gown and white face mask as he was being arraigned in Buffalo City Court on May 14. The other shows him wearing green camo-print clothes outside the grocery store in police custody earlier that day. His hair in that photo appears more auburn than in the photo of the court hearing.

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Someone’s hair color can look different in an image depending on a number of factors, such as lighting, whether a photo was taken inside or outside, and other conditions under which it was taken.

Other photos taken at the arraignment show Gendron with the same shade of hair as it appeared when he was in custody outside. In none of the images, including the ones that appear in the Facebook post, does it appear black.

But in some photos from the hearing, it looks more brown. That appears to be because some images taken at the hearing were shot through a plexiglass partition separating the defendant from the gallery where the public and press sit.

There’s no evidence to support the claim that the person photographed in the courtroom is not the same person photographed outside the grocery store. Both are Gendron.

We rate this post Pants on Fire!

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Ciara O'Rourke is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. Previously, Ciara covered local government and public safety for the Austin American-Statesman and fact-checked elected officials and…
Ciara O'Rourke

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