Authorities say a young shooter wearing tactical gear opened fire in a bustling supermarket in Buffalo’s mostly Black area on Saturday, killing ten people and wounding three more in the country’s latest high-profile murder seemingly motivated by hatred.
According to officials, the alleged gunman, a Caucasian 18-year-old guy, traveled many hours across New York to carry out the attack, which he live-streamed on social media. According to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, 11 of the 13 victims who were shot were Black.
Gov. Kathy Hochul described the gunman as a “white supremacist” who frightened New York’s second-largest city in a “cold-hearted,” “military-style execution” as people were shopping.
“It breaks our hearts to know that such wickedness lurks out there,” she remarked. “This white supremacist person who just committed a hate crime on an innocent community will spend the rest of his life in prison. And may God assist him in the next world as well.”
According to briefings with law enforcement authorities, the suspect had an assault weapon engraved with a racist insult.
“I was on the scene for three hours and listened intently to what the FBI, police, the district attorney, and the U.S. attorney had to say,” Higgins explained. “There is no question that this was a racist attack.”
Following the incident, the suspect, Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, some 200 miles southeast of Buffalo, was apprehended. He was charged with first-degree murder and appeared in court on Saturday evening with a bandage over his shoulder.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn stated that in addition to the murder accusation, his agency and federal officials were investigating various offenses ranging from terrorism to hate crimes.
The store is located around three miles north of downtown Buffalo. The surrounding neighborhood is mostly residential, including residences, a Family Dollar store, barber businesses, a laundromat, and a fire station. Authorities stated that evidence revealed the suspect had racial hostility, but they did not elaborate.
According to Gramaglia, the gunman was dressed in tactical gear and armed with an assault-style weapon. Around 2:30 p.m., he stopped outside Tops Friendly Market and opened fire in the parking lot, killing three individuals and wounding a fourth. Gramaglia stated that he then walked inside and started his rampage.
A retired Buffalo police officer who serves as a security guard at the business confronted and shot the gunman. According to authorities, the gunman was hit, but his tactical gear kept him safe.
The guard was killed when the shooter returned fire.
The shooter moved through the shop, firing at others, until being apprehended by police near the lobby. According to investigators, the shooter had his handgun pointed at his head, and authorities were able to negotiate his surrender.
“This is the greatest nightmare that any city can experience,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said during a press conference. “The degree of anguish that families and all of us are experiencing right now cannot be described.”
The Buffalo shooting and the quick assessment that it was racially motivated drew early similarities to the 2019 El Paso, Texas attack. A gunman admitted driving hundreds of miles to target Hispanics at a local Walmart. The Texas assault killed 23 people. According to a law enforcement official, detectives in the Buffalo case are looking at writings reportedly linked to the gunman that indicate the attack was motivated by hatred.
“We’re looking at this as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” said Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo field office.
Over the last year, FBI Director Christopher Wray has frequently warned of the threat presented by racially motivated violent extremists, telling Congress that such cases constitute the “majority” of the bureau’s domestic terrorism investigations. Wray told a Senate hearing last year that the same gang was responsible for the fatal assaults in the previous decade.
According to authorities, the shooter live-streamed the incident on social media. According to the Associated Press, the tape shows the gunman, clad in military garb, coming up to the front of the store with a weapon on the front seat, then exiting the car and pointing the rifle at bystanders in the parking lot before opening fire.
According to the official, the video also shows the guy entering the supermarket and killing many additional victims.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia described the incident as “pure wickedness.” “It was a blatantly racially motivated hate crime committed by someone outside our community.”
Higgins stated that officials were looking into the contents of a lengthy manifesto in which the assailant referred to past racially motivated attacks, including Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist who slaughtered nine people at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
“All the anecdotal evidence adds up to this,” Higgins added.
Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, claimed they’d just drove into the store’s parking lot when they spotted the suspected shooter fleeing and being apprehended.
“He was standing there, pistol to his chin.” What the hell is going on? We wondered. Why is this youngster holding a pistol to his head?” According to Kephart. He knelt on his knees. “He took his helmet off, dropped his rifle, and was tackled by the cops.”
Hochul stated that the suspect lawfully purchased the rifle used in the incident but that the weapon had been modified with illicit magazines. New York prohibits the sale of any magazine with a capacity greater than ten rounds.
She stated that law enforcement was investigating where the magazines were obtained, adding that they may have been purchased near Pennsylvania. She didn’t say how many rounds each magazine could store.
According to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, President Joe Biden was briefed on the attack and was praying for those impacted.
According to NAACP President Derrick Johnson, the incident was “extremely terrible.”
“Our thoughts go out to the community and everyone who has been affected by this horrible event.” Racism and hatred have no place in America. We are heartbroken, enraged, and praying for the victims’ families and loved ones. “In a statement, he continued.
The Rev. Al Sharpton released a series of tweets urging the White House to hold a conference with Black, Jewish, and Asian leaders “to underline the Federal government’s (escalating) efforts against hate crimes.” “The leaders of all these communities should stand together on this!” he continued.
Hochul again emphasized the need for reform, pointing out that the gunman was active online, sharing his racist beliefs and a broadcast of his spree.
“On social media networks, there is a feeding frenzy where hatred breeds more hate. That must cease, “She said. These organizations must be more careful in monitoring social media information.”