BUFFALO – A teenage gunman fascinated by a white supremacist ideology known as replacement theory opened fire at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, methodically shooting and killing 10 people and wounding three more, nearly all of them black, in one of the deadliest racist massacres in the world. parents. recent American history.
Authorities identified the shooter as Payton S. Gendron, 18, from Conklin, a small town in rural southern New York. Gendron drove more than 200 miles to mount his attack, which he also live-streamed, police said, a creepy video that appeared designed to further his sinister agenda.
Shortly after Gendron was captured, a manifesto believed to have been posted online by the gunman emerged, filled with racist and anti-immigrant views that claimed white Americans were in danger of being replaced by people of color. In the video that appeared to have been captured by the camera affixed to his helmet, an anti-Black racial slur can be seen on the barrel of his gun.
The attack, at a Tops Friendly Market in a mostly black neighborhood in East Buffalo, evoked grim comparisons to a number of other racially motivated massacres, including the murder of nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston, SC, in 2015; an anti-Semitic attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 that left 11 people dead; and an attack on a Walmart in El Paso in 2019, where the accused man expressed hatred for Latinos. More than 20 people died there.
At the Buffalo grocery store, where four employees were shot, the savagery and planning were evident: Gendron was armed with an assault weapon and was wearing a bulletproof vest, police said. And their preferred victims also seemed clear: in all, 11 of the people shot were black and two were white, officials said.
“It was a racially motivated hate crime,” said John Garcia, the Erie County sheriff.
At a Saturday night press conference, Governor Kathy Hochul – a Buffalo native – echoed that sentiment and denounced the attack as an “act of barbarism” and an “execution of innocent human beings”, as well as a chilling reminder of the dangers. of “white supremacist terrorism”.
“It touches our hearts to know that there is so much evil lurking out there,” said Governor Hochul.
Based on what was written in the manifesto, the attack appears to have been inspired by previous massacres motivated by racial hatred, including a mosque shooting in New Zealand and the Walmart shooting in Texas, both in 2019.
In the manifesto, which was being reviewed by police, Gendron – who attended a community college in Binghamton, NY – wrote that he had selected the area because it contained the highest percentage of black residents near his home in the south of the state. Tier, a predominantly white region that borders Pennsylvania.
The document outlined a careful plan to kill as many black people as possible, complete with the type of weapon he would use, a timeline, and where he would eat first.
It also included details of where he would broadcast the violence live, chaos that he had also calibrated. He carefully studied the layout of the grocery store, writing that he would shoot a security guard before crossing the aisles and shooting black shoppers. He wrote that he would shoot a couple of shots twice, in the chest, when he could.
He wrote that he had been “passively preparing” for the Buffalo attack for several years, buying ammunition and equipment, while practicing shooting infrequently. In January, the plans “really got serious,” according to the manifesto, which also praised the perpetrator of the 2015 South Carolina attack and a man who killed 51 Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.
Gendron read the racist writings of the New Zealand gunman, who also live-streamed his attack, a method also used in a shooting at a Jewish synagogue in Halle, Germany, in 2019.
In an indictment Saturday night, Gendron pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, a charge that carries life in prison without parole. He said little, except to confirm that he understood the charges, and gave little indication of emotion within the courtroom.
US attorney in Buffalo, Trini E. Ross, said her office is also investigating the murders as federal hate crimes.
Other gunmen referenced the racist idea known as “replacement theory,” a concept once associated with the far right but which has become increasingly popular, driven by politicians and popular television shows.
Officials said the camera the gunman used was used to stream the attack live on Twitch, an Amazon-owned live streaming website that is popular with gamers. On Saturday, Twitch said it had taken the channel offline. Still, screenshots of the broadcast were circulating online, including some that appeared to show the shooter holding a gun and standing over a body in the supermarket.
In his manifesto, Gendron seemed enthusiastic about broadcasting his attack, saying the live broadcast allowed “all people with internet” to watch and record the violence.
The massacre began around 2:30 pm, officials said, when Gendron arrived at the market from his car – on a sunny spring afternoon – dressed in tactical gear and body armor and carrying an assault weapon.
He shot four people in the parking lot, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph A. Gramaglia told a news conference, three of them fatally. When he entered the store and continued shooting, he encountered a security guard, a retired Buffalo police officer who returned fire. But Mr. Gendron was using heavy metal cladding; he killed the guard and continued into the store, shooting shoppers and employees.
When Buffalo officers arrived and confronted Gendron, he put a gun to his neck, but two patrolmen persuaded him to drop the gun and surrender, Gramaglia said.
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said he and his family periodically shopped at the store.
“Some of the victims of this sniper’s attack are people that all of us here know” said Brown, the fifth-term Democrat who was the first black man elected mayor of Buffalo, New York’s second most populous city.
The 10 people killed in Buffalo represent the highest number of deaths in a mass shooting in the United States this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks them. The highest death toll this year before that was six, in a shooting in downtown Sacramento on April 3. Six people were also killed in a shooting in Corsicana, Texas on February 5, and the same number were killed in a shooting in Milwaukee on January 23, according to the website.
In a statement Saturday night, President Biden expressed sympathy for the victims’ families and praise for law enforcement, adding that “a racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation.”
“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,” the president said. “Hate must not have a safe harbor.”
Gun deaths hit the highest number on record in the United States in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, rising 35%, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
The Buffalo shooting on Saturday destroyed a seemingly serene afternoon, with shoppers screaming and fleeing inside the Tops, and families scrambling to find loved ones outside the store.
Ken Stephens, 68, a member of a local anti-violence group, described a terrifying scene. “I came here, and the bodies were everywhere,” he said.
The attack took place in a neighborhood known as Masten Park on the East Side of Buffalo. Dominique Calhoun, who lives near the supermarket, said she was pulling into the parking lot to buy ice cream with her daughters – aged eight and nine – when she saw people running and screaming.
“That literally could have been me,” she said of the people who were killed.
Dorothy Simmons, 64, normally spends part of her Saturdays at Tops, buying food to prepare Sunday dinner, something she says is part of a common tradition in her community. On Saturday, however, she was working in Amherst.
And when she heard the news, she broke down and cried.
“This is our store,” Simmons said. “This is our store.”
Kellen Browning, Dan Higgins |, Luke Hammill, Glenn Thrush, Adam Goldman, Alexandra E. Petri, Ashley Southall, Vimal Patel and Eduardo Medina contributed reports. Jack Begg contributed research.