FACT CHECK: Was Buffalo Mass Shooting Victim Aaron Salter Jr. Killed For Working On A Water-Powered Car Engine?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims Aaron Salter Jr., a security guard who was killed in a recent shooting at a Buffalo grocery store, was targeted because he was developing a water-powered car engine.

Facebook/Screenshot

Facebook/Screenshot

Verdict: False

While Salter Jr. was working on prototypes for water-based car engines, there is no evidence he was targeted for his invention. The alleged shooter was motivated by a racist conspiracy theory, according to NBC News.

Fact Check:

An 18-year-old man allegedly traveled to a Buffalo Tops Supermarket May 14 where he proceeded to shoot and kill 10 people, including Salter Jr., according to The Associated Press. Salter Jr. was killed outside of the supermarket while firing at the suspect, the New York Post reported.

The Facebook post alleges Salter Jr. had been killed by the shooter “because he was working on creating a water-powered car engine.” There is no evidence to support this claim. (RELATED: Have White Supremacists Threatened To Attack Walmarts In San Bernardino County?)

It is correct that Salter Jr. had been developing a water-based car-powering method, called “hydrogen-electrolysis,” according to Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. His idea was allegedly inspired by rising gas prices and he was working on prototypes, the outlet reported.

However, there is no evidence to suggest the alleged shooter knew Salter Jr. prior to the murder or that his invention was a motivation for the shooting. The suspect created a manifesto shared on Google Docs May 12 that repeatedly mentioned the “great replacement theory,” a conspiracy theory that suggests white Americans are systematically being replaced, according to NBC News. The manifesto said the shooter drove to Buffalo based on the area’s high black population and the fact that it “isn’t that far away,” CBS News reported.

Erie County Sheriff John Garcia deemed the shooting a “straight-up racially motivated hate crime,” according to CNN. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the agency was investigating the crime as an act of “racially motivated violent extremism,” the outlet reported. Check Your Fact found no credible news reporting to suggest Salter Jr.’s work on water-based cars was a motivation for the attack.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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