At least 10 people were killed at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, when a ‘heavily armed’ gunman carrying an assault weapon opened fire on store employees and customers on Saturday afternoon in what city and federal authorities call a racially motivated hate crime.
The suspect was identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo, New York, law enforcement officials said. He was being questioned Saturday night by the FBI; a senior law enforcement official said his distraught parents were cooperating with authorities.
He was quickly arraigned Saturday night for first-degree murder and remanded in custody, Buffalo authorities said; the judge ordered a forensic examination.
The shooter drove to Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue around 2:30 p.m., exiting his vehicle dressed in armored tactical gear and a helmet equipped with a camera he was using to livestream his movements, said Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.
The shooter first opened fire in the parking lot, killing three people and wounding a fourth, Gramaglia said. Then he allegedly moved into the supermarket where an on-duty security guard exchanged gunfire with the 18-year-old suspect. The senior official said the shooter was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, shotgun and shotgun, all recently purchased legally.
The security guard, a retired Buffalo police officer, was shot and killed before the gunman entered further into the store, shooting customers and store employees, the commissioner said. Six people, including the caretaker, died inside the store. At a press conference, police officials said 11 of the 13 victims were black.
Officials said responding police met the shooter at the front of the store and convinced him to drop his gun and surrender.
The local FBI office is investigating the case as a hate crime and tragedy of “racially motivated violent extremism” and has called the case the Justice Department’s new No. 1 priority.
The alleged shooter, a white man accused of driving more than three hours in the predominantly black Buffalo neighborhood where the store is located, may have posted a manifesto online, law enforcement sources said.
“What started out as a great day in the city of Buffalo turned into a terrible day,” Mayor Byron Brown said. “It’s the worst nightmare any community can face.”
Governor points finger at social media
Governor Kathy Hochul, at a press conference late Saturday night, directed her most intense anger at social media companies, saying they should work harder to monitor and moderate hateful content.
“Social media platforms that profit from their existence must be responsible for monitoring and surveillance, knowing that they may be, in a sense, complicit in a crime like this. Maybe not legally, but morally – they created the platform for this hate to be spewed,” Hochul said.
The supermarket is in a predominantly black neighborhood about 3 miles north of downtown Buffalo. The surrounding area is mostly residential, with a Family Dollar store and a fire station near the store.
At least ten people were killed Saturday afternoon at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, after a gunman carrying a rifle entered the store and opened fire, police sources said.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” a spokesperson for Tops Friendly Markets said. “We appreciate the prompt response from local law enforcement and are providing all available resources to assist authorities with the ongoing investigation.
People in the immediate vicinity were asked to avoid the store while police investigate.
Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the shooter exited. They described him as a white male in his late teens or early twenties wearing full camouflage, a black helmet, and what appeared to be a rifle.
“He was standing there with the gun to his chin. We were like what’s going on? Why does this kid have a gun to his face? Kephart said. He fell to his knees. “He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun and was tackled by the police.”
Photos: Mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, NY
Police sealed off the block, lined with onlookers, and yellow police surrounded the entire parking lot. Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were at the scene late Saturday afternoon, gathered in a parking lot across from the Tops store and were scheduled to address the media.
Buffalo Shooter’s Manifesto
Gendron appears to have posted an online manifesto late Thursday night, according to NBC News, with details of a planned crime that exactly match Saturday’s shooting.
The violently racist and anti-Semitic leaflet makes it clear that the shooter targeted Buffalo because of the size of the city’s black population.
Authorities are still struggling to confirm he authored the manifesto, which frequently nods to the white supremacist who killed 51 people in New Zealand in 2019.