The massacre ended when Gendron surrendered to the police outside the store. Later Saturday, he was charged with first degree murder and held without bond. He pleaded not guilty.
Stephen Belongia, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo field office, said law enforcement officials are investigating the shooting as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said 11 of the 13 people shot were black.
BREAKING: BPD at the scene of a mass shooting at the Tops in the 1200 block of Jefferson Avenue. According to the police, several people were hit by gunfire. The shooter is in custody. Motorists and residents are asked to avoid the area.
— Buffalo Police Department (@BPDAlerts) May 14, 2022
Gramaglia added that the gunman, who was heavily armed and wearing tactical gear, used a camera to livestream the attack and shot several victims in the parking lot before entering the store.
The grocery store’s longtime security guard returned fire, but the shooter’s body armor repelled the shot and the guard was killed in the encounter, Gramaglia said. He called the security guard a “hero”. Four of those killed were store employees and six were customers, law enforcement officials said.
Eric County Sheriff John Garcia called the attack “pure evil.”
Gendron grew up in Conklin, a New York City over 200 miles from Buffalo near the town of Binghamton. The shooter was not known to law enforcement, said John Flynn, the Erie County District Attorney. Flynn said there was evidence pointing to “racial animosity” on the part of the suspect, but he declined to elaborate.
Investigators are examining a screed they suspect was posted by the shooter outlining his white supremacist motivations and ideology. The 180-page document was uploaded to Google Drive and details the author’s radicalization on internet forums, as well as a plan to target a predominantly black neighborhood.
The author calls himself a white supremacist, fascist and anti-Semite. The paper centers on a far-right conspiracy theory that baselessly postulates that the white population in Western countries is being reduced – or “replaced” – by immigrants in a deliberate plot.
The author cites Brenton Tarrant, the gunman who killed 51 people at a New Zealand mosque, as the inspiration for the attack. The author also mentions Dylann Roof, who killed nine worshipers in an attack on a black church in Charleston in 2015.
The scene of a deadly shooting in Buffalo
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the “senseless and horrific shooting” is being investigated “as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.” He said the Justice Department is “committed to a thorough and prompt investigation of this shooting and to seeking justice for these innocent victims.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said it was “a day of great pain for our community.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D), a Buffalo-area native, told reporters the gun used in the shooting appeared to have been obtained legally. “I’m angry,” she said. “I saw violence in the Brooklyn subway and now on the streets of Buffalo. It has to stop. »
The Tops Friendly Markets store is in a low-income Buffalo neighborhood and opened about seven years ago, residents said. It filled a major gap by becoming the only supermarket within walking distance for many people living nearby. On Saturdays, locals say, it’s buzzing with customers, including the elderly.
Saturday’s shooting echoes the March 2021 mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in which 10 people, including a police officer, were killed at a King Soopers grocery store.
Kathy Sautter, spokeswoman for Tops Friendly Markets, said the company was “shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence”. She said Tops appreciates the quick response from law enforcement and is providing all available resources to help with the investigation.
Eyewitnesses described a scene of terror. Grady Lewis was outside the store and said he saw a white man equipped for war, wearing military-style fatigues and holding a gun in his hands. He said he couldn’t believe what was happening before his eyes.
Lewis said the man opened fire, pointing the gun left and right as he fired indiscriminately at people. Lewis heard more than two dozen gunshots as the man entered the grocery store, he said.
A worker who identified himself as Will G. told the Buffalo News he walked into a cooler to store milk minutes before the shooting. As gunshots rang out, he joined other people hiding in the cooler.
“I just heard gunshots. Blows and blows and blows,” he told the News. “It looked like things were falling apart.”
He added: “I hid. I just hid. I wasn’t going to leave this room.
Lewis said shortly after the shooter entered the store, he came out and held the gun to his chin as if he was going to pull the trigger. Surrounded by police, he instead dropped the gun, removed his body armor and knelt on the ground, Lewis said.
“It was amazing,” he said. “I mean you could get robbed here, but people don’t really shoot people here.”
Philip Washington works at a nearby hair salon and walked out when he heard gunshots. He said he saw the shooter surrender to police outside the store and “it was bodies lying all around him.” Washington said one of the women killed saved her cousin’s life.
Daniel Love, 24, the owner of the barbershop, said that every day for about a week, the alleged shooter sat outside the Love store and pretended to use the wireless internet.
Braedyn Kephart, 20, a student at Erie Community College, said she and her boyfriend, Shayne Hill, also 20, pulled into Tops’ parking lot to pick up an Instacart order on Saturday afternoon when they saw a young white man in full military gear standing outside the store, pointing an assault rifle to his chin.
“We looked and saw him standing there with the gun to his chin, and I was like, ‘Why does this kid have a gun?’ Then I heard screaming,” Kephart said.Police told the couple to stay in the car for their safety.
As Kephart and Hill watched from their car, they could see the suspect fall to his knees and surrender to police, who arrested him. Other eyewitnesses said he was laughing during his arrest, she said.
“I’m pretty shaken up. My mind is blown by everything that has happened,” she said.
Samantha Faught, a spokeswoman for live-streaming platform Twitch, said the shooter began filming and sharing the attack, but the company deleted the feed two minutes after the violence began.
People who know Gendron were shocked by the news, describing him as normal albeit calm. A former classmate who last texted him months ago and spoke on condition of anonymity said he was ‘always a bit quirky, but never anything alarming or anything. is”.
Conklin neighbor Russell McNulty said he last saw Gendron at his high school graduation party a year ago. They smoked a cigarette outside together and talked about what the young man wanted for his future.
“Oh my God, we were at the graduation party,” McNulty gasped after learning what happened. “He looked like a normal guy.”
In the streets around the supermarket, there was grief, rage and disbelief. “Everyone is feeling sad and angry about what happened today,” said 58-year-old Robert Nailor, who has lived in the neighborhood all his life. “It was a hate crime and it lets us know how some people around the world still think today.”
Cedric Holloway, a retired Buffalo police officer, was mentoring a group of teenagers at a community center two blocks from the supermarket when he began receiving frantic text messages about the shooting. He quietly left the room where the children were attending a workshop, made sure the doors were locked and then calmly explained to them why he was turning off the lights.
High school students began scouring social media, relaying excerpts from the document allegedly written by the shooter to Holloway. They also showed him a photo circulating on the Internet of the alleged shooter holding a military-style firearm with something written on the barrel: The n-word.
As he let his mentees go home for the night, he inquired with each. “They told me not to worry, ‘They’ve seen this stuff before,'” Holloway said. “How do you answer that? »
Joly reported from Buffalo. Libby March in Buffalo contributed reporting, along with Alice Crites, Razzan Nakhlawi, Marisa Iati, Meryl Kornfield, Tim Bella and Annie Gowen.