A gunman embracing a white supremacist ideology opened fire yesterday afternoon at a supermarket in a predominantly black Buffalo neighborhood, killing 10 people and wounding three more. The mass shooting was the deadliest in the United States this year and among a string of racist attacks in recent years.
The suspect, Payton S. Gendron, 18, drove more than 200 miles to stage the attack, and he live streamed it while shooting at shoppers and store employees. He was arrested at the store and pleaded not guilty in a brief court appearance.
Around the same time, a manifesto attributed to him appeared online, repeatedly invoking the racist idea that white Americans were in danger of being replaced by people of color. The view is known as “replacement theory” and was once linked to the far right, but has become increasingly popular.
Among the victims were a security guard and an 86-year-old mother of four who stopped by the store on her way home after visiting her husband at the nursing home where he lives.
how was the shooting
At around 2:30 pm, as shoppers filled the Tops supermarket, the suspect arrived wearing a bulletproof vest, tactical gear and a helmet with a video camera attached. He was carrying an assault rifle with an anti-black slur written on the barrel and started shooting in the parking lot. Three victims were killed outside and one was injured.
The suspect then entered the store to continue his attack, briefly exchanging gunfire with the security guard before killing him. He went on to stalk victims throughout the store; “Bodies were everywhere,” said one witness.
Shonnell Harris, the store’s manager, told The Buffalo News he heard about 70 gunshots and ran through the Tops, falling repeatedly before escaping through the back.
The shooter ended up making his way back to the front of the store. By this time the police had arrived and he briefly put a gun to his neck before starting to remove tactical equipment as a form of surrender and the police accosted him.
Of the 13 people shot, 11 were black and two were white. Four worked at the Tops grocery store. Few have been publicly identified.
The security guard who was killed was a former police officer — “a hero in our eyes,” said Joseph A. Gramaglia, the Buffalo Police Commissioner.
Ruth Whitfield, 86, was a mother of four and a “mother of orphans,” her son told The News. Her husband had moved into a nursing home years ago and she still visited him every day. She had just visited him when she stopped at Tops for a bite to eat, WGRZ reported.
The attack appears to have been inspired by previous mass shootings motivated by racial hatred, including a 2019 New Zealand mosque shooting and a Texas Walmart massacre the same year, according to the manifesto.
In chilling detail, the document outlined a plan to kill as many black people as possible, including the type of weapon to use, a timeline, a specific parking spot, and where to eat ahead of time.
Gendron wrote that he chose the supermarket area because it was home to the highest percentage of black residents near his home in southern New York, largely white. Police surrounded his home outside Binghamton, NY, overnight.
“It was a racially motivated hate crime,” said John Garcia, the local sheriff.
Federal officials said they are investigating the shooting as a hate crime. The next court case was scheduled for Thursday.
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