BUFFALO, NY — Officials say ten people were killed and three others were injured Saturday afternoon in a shooting at a Buffalo supermarket.
The suspect, identified as Payton S. Gendron, 18, of Conklin, was taken into custody and arrested. He pleaded not guilty to one count of first degree murder.
“This carries a life sentence without the possibility of parole,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said. “We are currently investigating terrorism charges, other murder charges, while working with our partners in the federal government so they may be able to pursue charges as well.”
Gendron was remanded in custody without bail. A felony hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning.
Police say Gendron, who is white, traveled “hours” to carry out the attack at Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue. The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime and radically motivated violent extremism.
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.
“It was pure evil. It was a racially motivated hate crime by someone outside of our community, outside of the city of good neighbors… coming into our community and trying to inflict this evil on us. “said the Erie County Sheriff. John Garcia.
According to police officials, at around 2:30 p.m., Gendron got out of a vehicle in the parking lot of the supermarket. Police said he was heavily armed and wearing tactical gear, including a helmet with a camera he used to live-stream the shooting. A police source claims that Gendron was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Gendron allegedly shot four people in the parking lot. Three of these victims died on the spot. One was injured but survived.
According to police, the suspect then entered and began shooting at customers.
“You can see inside the store and I saw it [shooting]. And I’m like, I don’t have a phone on me, so I’m like, ‘Someone’ — I’m screaming — ‘Someone call the police,'” a witness said.
Police say a retired Buffalo police officer who worked as a security guard exchanged gunfire with Gendron and punched him but, due to the suspect’s tactical gear, was unable to stop him. . Gendron then allegedly shot and killed the security guard.
According to police, the suspect made his way through the rest of the store, eventually returning to the supermarket.
Buffalo police then engaged the suspect in the store’s vestibule. Gendron allegedly put a gun to his own neck, but officers convinced him to drop the gun.
According to police, Gendron then removed some of the tactical gear and surrendered.
A total of 13 people were killed. Ten victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the other three victims suffered injuries that did not appear to be life threatening.
All three injured victims were taken to Erie County Medical Center in stable condition. At 7:30 p.m., a victim had been released.
Four of the shooting victims were store employees, including the security guard. The other victims were customers.
Eleven of the victims are African American and two are white.
Tops Friendly Markets issued 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.”
Twitch, the platform used by the alleged shooter to broadcast the attack live, issued the following statement:
“We are devastated to learn of the shooting that took place this afternoon in Buffalo, New York. Our hearts go out to the community affected by this tragedy. Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against violence of any kind and works quickly to respond to any incidents. The user has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring any account reposting this content.”
“This is the worst nightmare any community can face,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. “The depth of pain the families are feeling and that we are all feeling right now cannot even be explained.”
Governor Kathy Hochul traveled to Buffalo on Saturday to help with the response.
“I know the individuals who live here, the wonderful, tight-knit neighborhood, and to see that sense of security shattered by an individual, a white supremacist who has engaged in an act of terrorism and will be prosecuted as such, in a cold… .in a sincere and calculated way,” Hochul said. “It strikes us to the bottom of our hearts to know that there is such evil lurking out there.”
At the White House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden receives regular updates on the shooting and its aftermath.
“The President was briefed by his Homeland Security Advisor on the horrific shooting in Buffalo, NY, this afternoon. He will continue to receive updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as new information will develop,” she said, adding that the president and first lady were praying for the victims and their loved ones.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has been briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said.
The NYPD says that while there is no threat to New York City, out of an abundance of caution there is an increase in patrols at various locations.
The shooting came just over a year after a March 2021 attack on a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information on why they believe the man accused of the attack targeted the supermarket.