Broome County district attorney addresses previous investigation into Buffalo shooting suspect

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BINGHAMTON, NY — Broome County District Attorney Mike Korchak addressed newly released details surrounding an investigation into comments made by the Buffalo shooting suspect in 2021.

The alleged gunman is from Conklin. Korchak, during a press conference Wednesday, said law enforcement investigated the defendant a year ago, when school officials flagged comments he made about murder and suicide.

Korchak said police took the alleged shooter to Binghamton General Hospital, where he underwent a mental health evaluation. The district attorney said the evaluation found the suspect didn’t pose a threat to himself or others.

Broome County District Attorney Mike Korchak. (Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo/WSKG)

Because of that, Korchak said law enforcement did not request a red flag order, which would have barred the suspect from possessing or purchasing firearms.

“We have to prove to the court that he is likely to harm himself or others. And we had a medical professional evaluate him and say that, at that point in time, he wasn’t likely to harm himself or others. So we’re kind of bound by the law,” Korchak said.

Korchak added that he does not have the full details from the mental health evaluation, due to HIPAA laws and because the shooting happened recently. He acknowledged that the alleged gunman “slipped through the cracks,” but argued that law enforcement followed correct procedures.

He said law enforcement had no way of knowing that the defendant would carry out the attack a year later.

“[You’re] trying to read people’s minds, and things of that nature. That’s why I feel that the State Police did what they had to do. They took him up to Binghamton General Hospital and got an evaluation,” Korchak said.

Korchak was asked whether law enforcement, if presented with a similar situation again, would do the same thing. He said under current law, nothing else could be done.

An earlier version of this story misstated the name of a federal medical privacy law. It’s HIPAA, not HIPPA.