LYNNWOOD, Wash. – Authorities on Thursday arrested a man accused of calling in threats to shoot and kill Black people at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and a restaurant in California, according to prosecutors and KIRO-TV.
Officials charged 37-year-old Joey David George, of Lynnwood, Washington, on two counts of making interstate threats, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.
In a criminal complaint filed in court, an FBI special agent said George called a Tops store in Buffalo on July 19 and asked how many Black people were in the store.
“He said he would make the news if he shot and killed all of the Black people, including all of the women, children, and babies,” according to the complaint. Authorities said he called himself “a really good shot” and claimed that he “could pick off people from the parking lot.”
He also said that if the store was cleared out, he would go to the Jefferson Tops store – the site of a mass shooting targeting Black people that left 10 people dead in May, court records show.
“He called the next day again to that same store and said he was going to start a race war and that he intended to kill these people,” U.S Attorney Nick Brown told KIRO. Brown added that though the threats were made over the phone, “We don’t know whether the individual planned to follow up on those.”
The calls were made two months after officials said George called a Shari’s Restaurant in San Bruno, California and “threatened to shoot any Black or Hispanic patrons in the restaurant if the restaurant did not close within twenty minutes,” according to the complaint. Later, while speaking to a police officer, George said that he made the threat “because he wanted to attack Black people and strike fear into the Bay Area’s Black community,” officials said.
“He stated Black people are not human, but rather ‘sub-humans,’” according to the complaint. “He said he was proud of his actions because he instilled fear in the employees and customers of the restaurant.”
In court records, officials said George was also believed to have made similar threats against businesses in Maryland, Connecticut and Washington. Prosecutors said he also admitted to making threatening calls against businesses in Houston and in Georgia.
On Monday, a judge ordered George to be held without bond. He is next scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on Aug. 5.