May 20, 2022

The day before the deadly shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket, a patron of the store had spoken to the man who police have charged in the attack. An Instagram post has mischaracterized an interview with the patron, saying it shows that the event was staged.

It wasn’t. Ten people died and more were injured.

In an interview with NBC News, a man identified as Grady Lewis said this about his encounter with the shooter: “He looked out of place. Not because he was white, it’s just a feeling I had about him —”

“Intuition,” someone can be heard saying off camera.

“Intuition,” Lewis said, “yes, definitely. An energy that made me say, ‘well, let me talk to this guy.’ And I talked to him for like an hour and 45 minutes and, actually bought him something to drink because he seemed a little nervous but I wasn’t able to get anything out of him.”

A description of this exchange in an Instagram post says: “Witness to the shooting: feedback from earpiece, being told what to say is caught on live TV.”

“STAGED WE ALL KNOW IT,” one person commented on the post.

“They couldn’t find a better actor than THIS???” someone else said.

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

It’s clear watching the video that this is not a hot mic moment gone awry.

Lewis was describing a feeling he had about the alleged gunman, and someone offered a word for what he was describing: intuition. Lewis then agrees that the word characterizes what he’s describing.

He’s wearing a microphone, which is typical of people giving TV news interviews, but he doesn’t appear to be wearing an earpiece, as the Instagram post claims.

Lewis, who is 50, visits the Tops grocery store where the May 14 shooting took place on most days, The Wall Street Journal reported. He was sitting across the street when he heard the first gunshots.

In the aftermath of the incident, Lewis gave multiple interviews to news outlets and made similar remarks.

“I got a feeling of, he’s not supposed to be here. I just had a feeling,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I don’t like — it’s not like white people come to the store, and I say, ‘why are you here?’ I don’t do that. It was just a feeling.”

Claims that Lewis was being directed on what to say on camera and that it proves that the shooting was staged are wrong. We rate them 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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