Authorities stated Saturday that a man opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and wounding three more. The shooter, who is now in custody, has been charged with murder in a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism, according to police.
Sheriff John Garcia of Erie County said, “This was pure wickedness.” “This was a racially motivated hate crime perpetrated by someone from outside our community.”
An 18-year-old White man exited his vehicle at a Tops Friendly Market at 2:30 p.m., according to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. According to Gramaglia, the guy was “quite heavily armed” and had a tactical helmet and gear. He also had a camera and was live-streaming the shooting, according to police.
Before entering the store, the suspect shot four persons in the parking lot, killing three of them, he added. When he entered the business, he was greeted by a “beloved” retired Buffalo police officer who was working as a security guard. According to Gramaglia, the guard fired multiple shots at the culprit, but they had no effect on him because of his tactical gear. The guard, who has not been identified, was then killed by the suspect.
According to Gramaglia, the guy eventually returned to the front of the store and was apprehended by police. When he noticed police, he raised his gun to his neck, but cops persuaded him to drop it and surrender, according to Gramaglia. He was put into arrest after that.
Payton Gendron, the suspect, has been charged with murder in the first degree, the most serious murder allegation under New York law, according to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. Gendron entered a not-guilty plea. The charge involves a life sentence without the possibility of parole. On May 19, a felony hearing will be held.
Federal investigators are “investigating this matter as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism,” according to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
In a statement, Garland said, “The Justice Department is dedicated to conducting a full and swift investigation into this shooting and seeking justice for these innocent victims.”
Flynn said late Saturday that his office is now looking into possible terrorist and other murder charges. Flynn had previously stated that the perpetrator, who allegedly used an assault weapon in the incident, was unknown to authorities.
Gendron is from Conklin, New York, which is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Buffalo, according to Flynn. Gendron allegedly wrote and posted a hate-filled screed online before the attack, claiming that he chose the spot because it had a large Black population and “isn’t that far away.”
The case is being investigated as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism, according to Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office.
During the shooting, the suspect allegedly hurled racist obscenities, according to a law enforcement source. According to a source, the gunman’s weapon had a racial slur scrawled on it.
“We will not stop until every lead is examined, every piece of evidence is studied, and we understand how and why this horrific tragedy and crime occurred,” Belongia said, adding that the FBI is conducting a parallel investigation to the state investigation.
At the news briefing, officials stated that 11 of the 13 victims were African Americans. Four of the victims were store employees, including one of the dead.
The incident, according to NAACP President Derrick Johnson, was “extremely terrible.”
In a statement, he stated, “Hate and racism have no place in America.” “We are heartbroken, furious, and praying for the victims’ families and loved ones, as well as the entire community.”
“The First Lady and I are praying for the victims and their families, and hearts all throughout this country are with the people of Buffalo,” President Biden wrote in a statement denouncing the “horrific” attack.
“While law enforcement continues to investigate the motive for today’s shooting, we don’t need anything else to declare a clear moral truth: a racially motivated hate crime is repulsive to the fundamental fabric of this country,” Mr. Biden said. “Any act of domestic terrorism, particularly one committed in the service of a vile white nationalist ideology, is diametrically opposed to everything America stands for. Hate must be denied a safe haven. We must do everything possible to put an end to domestic terrorism motivated by hatred.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, said the state has offered help to local officials and encouraged residents to avoid the area. She described the suspect as a white nationalist and said the shooting was an “act of terrorism” in a statement released Saturday night.
Hochul also urged social media platforms to be more diligent in their content policing. “The fact that this act of cruelty, this execution of innocent people, could be live-streamed on social media sites and not taken down in a second tells me there is a responsibility out there,” Hochul added. “And we’ll keep working on it to make sure that people who supply these platforms have a moral and ethical obligation, as well as, hopefully, a legal obligation, to ensure that such hate does not exist on their platforms. Because that is the outcome.”
Hochul also revealed Friday night that the suspect legally obtained his firearm but modified it illegally.
The victims’ identities have not been published by the police, however, New York State Senator Tim Kennedy stated one of his staffers’ children was shot.
“A member of my staff, my extended family,” Kennedy remarked, “is at ECMC tonight when she should be at home.” “She’s in a hospital waiting room because her lovely, wonderful son was shot while going about his business.”
“To say that I’m heartbroken tonight is an understatement. I’m heartbroken. I’m angry. I’m also thinking of the families that will not be able to welcome a loved one home tonight “Kennedy continued. “All because a person filled with absolute wickedness made the determined decision to take the lives of innocent people.”
The shooting has left Tops Friendly Markets “shocked and extremely grieved,” according to a statement.
The store stated, “Our top focus remains the health and well-being of our workers and consumers.” “We appreciate local law enforcement’s rapid response and are committing all available resources to aid authorities in the continuing investigation.”
The shooting in Buffalo is the latest high-profile mass shooting allegedly motivated by racial hatred, according to authorities. The FBI upgraded the threat presented by racially motivated violent extremists in the United States to a “national threat priority” in 2020, putting it on par with the threat level provided by foreign terrorist organizations. In November 2019, FBI Director Christopher Wray informed Congress that the bulk of these assaults are “motivated by some type of white nationalism.”