BUFFALO, NY — An 18-year-old white youth wearing military gear and live-streaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, killing 10 people and wounding three others on Saturday, in what authorities described as ” violent extremism motivated by race. ”
Police said he shot 11 black victims and two white victims before turning himself in to authorities in a riot he live-streamed on the streaming platform Twitch.
He later appeared before a judge in a paper medical gown and was charged with murder.
“It is my sincere hope that this individual, this white supremacist who has just committed a hate crime against an innocent community, will spend the rest of his days behind bars. And may God help him in the next world too,” Governor Kathy Hochul said, speaking near the scene of the attack.
The massacre sent shockwaves through an unstable nation gripped by racial tensions, gun violence and a slew of hate crimes. The day before the shooting, Dallas police said they were investigating a series of shootings in Koreatown as hate crimes. The Buffalo attack came just a month after another mass shooting on a Brooklyn subway train injured 10 people.
The alleged shooter in Saturday’s attack on Tops Friendly Market has been identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo.
It wasn’t immediately clear why Payton traveled to Buffalo and that particular grocery store. A clip apparently from his Twitch feed, posted on social media, showed Gendron arriving at the grocery store in his car.
The gunman shot four people outside the store, three fatally, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. Inside the store, security guard Aaron Salter, a retired Buffalo police officer, fired several shots. A bullet hit the sniper’s bulletproof armor but had no effect, Gramaglia said.
The gunman then killed the guard, the commissioner said, and then walked through the store shooting other victims.
The police entered the store and confronted the shooter in the foyer. He put the rifle to his own neck, but two police officers convinced him to drop the weapon, Gramaglia said.
“This is the worst nightmare any community can face, and we are hurting and boiling right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at the press conference. “The depth of pain that the families are feeling and that we are all feeling right now cannot even be explained.”
Twitch said in a statement that it ended Gendron’s broadcast “less than two minutes after the violence began.”
A law enforcement official told the Associated Press that investigators were investigating whether he had posted a manifesto online. The official was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and did so on condition of anonymity.
Buffalo Police declined to comment on the document, widely circulated online, which purports to describe the assailant’s racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic beliefs, including a desire to expel all people of non-European descent from the US. killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019.
At the previous press conference, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia called the shooting a hate crime.
“That was pure evil. It was (a) a racially motivated hate crime of someone from outside our community, outside the City of Good Neighbors … entering our community and trying to inflict this evil on us,” Garcia said.
Among the dead was Ruth Whitfield, the 86-year-old mother of a retired Buffalo fire commissioner.
“My mother was a mother to orphans. She was a blessing to all of us,” former fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield told the Buffalo News.
Witnesses Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both in their 20s, entered the parking lot just as the gunman was leaving.
“He was there with the gun to his chin. We were like what the hell is going on? Why does this kid have a gun pointed at his face? said Kephart. He dropped to his knees. “He ripped off his helmet, dropped the gun and was approached by the police.”
Officials said the Gendron rifle used in the attack was legally purchased, but the magazines he used for ammunition cannot be sold in New York.
President Joe Biden in a statement said he and the First Lady were praying for the victims and their families.
“We still need to learn more about the motivation for today’s shooting as law enforcement goes about its business, but we need nothing more to assert a clear moral truth: a racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation,” he said. “Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a disgusting white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America.”
Tops Friendly Markets released a statement saying, “We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
The shooting came just over a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, which killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information as to why they believe the man accused in the attack targeted the supermarket.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson issued a statement in which he called the Buffalo shooting “absolutely devastating.”
“Hate and racism have no place in America,” he said.
The Rev. Al Sharpton called on the White House to convene a meeting of black, Jewish and Asian leaders to demonstrate a federal commitment to fighting hate crimes.
More than two hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews was waiting outside the store behind police tape.
“We would like to know the situation of my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was there with her fiancé, they split up and went to different aisles,” she said. “A bullet narrowly missed him. He managed to hide in a freezer, but he couldn’t reach my aunt and he doesn’t know where she is. We’d just like to know if she’s okay.”
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