A New York corrections officer has been suspended without pay after allegedly sharing a social media post joking about the Tops supermarket shooting over the weekend that left 10 dead and three others injured.
Gregory C. Foster II, a correction officer at the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, about a hour away from Buffalo, shared a “despicable social media post,” the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) said in a Tuesday statement.
He allegedly shared a meme on Facebook that showed a photo of the Tops supermarket with a caption about a “clean up” in multiple aisles DOCCS confirmed.
Authorities have called the supermarket attack a hate motivated shooting as 11 of the 13 people shot were Black by a white 18-year-old gunman.
The shooting is now the subject of local and federal investigations. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the Justice Department “is investigating this matter as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism.”
The DOCCS said it is seeking to terminate the employee who made the post, in addition to suspending him without pay.
“The comments made by this correction officer are in violation of multiple Department rules and will not be tolerated. This vile posting does not represent the morals and values of the thousands of staff members in the Department,” the statement said.
“The Department has engaged the Civil Rights Task Force, which we are members of, for potential criminal prosecution. The Department has also launched an internal investigation to identify and discipline any staff who may have engaged with the posting,” the statement continued.
Foster was hired in 1997 and worked for the DOCCS for 25 years.
NBC News was unable to reach Foster. His Facebook page was also no longer viewable.
The post was condemned by the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association.
“Some members, who will not be named, have allegedly posted on social media making obscene jokes about the horrific shooting that occurred at the Tops grocer store in Buffalo. It appears that some other members joined and commented on the post with ‘laugh emoji’s,’” the NYSCOPBA’s executive board said in a statement to its members.
“This is a sickening display of disregard for all human life and NYSCOPBA does not condone such hatred.”
After the Tops shooting, disturbing details about suspect Payton Gendron, of Conklin, New York, came to light including an online document espousing a conspiracy theory frequently pushed by white supremacists. The document revealed he targeted the Buffalo grocery store because it’s the city with the most Black residents that’s nearest to the author’s residence.
President Joe Biden visited Buffalo Tuesday and in a speech denounced white supremacy, calling the shooting “terrorism.”
“In America, evil will not win, I promise you. Hate will not prevail, and white supremacy will not have the last word,” Biden said while at a local community center there.