A teen accused of committing a “racially motivated” massacre at a New York supermarket exhibited alarming behavior leading up to the shooting.
A teenage white supremacist accused of murdering 10 people in a “racially motivated” massacre at a New York supermarket, previously threatened to shoot a classmate during his high school graduation and wore a Hazmat suit to school for a week.
Officials at Susquehanna Valley High School contacted New York state police last year to report that Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, a small town about 270 miles northwest of New York City, threatened to shoot fellow students in June 2021. shoot.
“A school official reported that this deeply troubled young man made statements that he intended to commit a shooting, either during a graduation ceremony or some time afterward,” a government source told the local newspaper. Buffalo News†
After police investigated the account, Gendron was referred for mental health evaluation and counseling.
Nearly a year later, according to police, he shot 13 people in a deadly attack that he live-streamed on camera at a Top Market supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Gendron pleaded not guilty to first degree murder and was returned without bail on Sunday.
“I understand my allegations,” he told the judge.
He will then appear in court on Thursday. If found guilty, he faces a life sentence with no chance of parole.
Two victims have been identified. The retired cop turned store warden Aaron Salter and shopper Ruth Whitfield, an 86-year-old grandmother.
Authorities said Gendron recently purchased the weapons he used in the shooting. The semiautomatic pistol Gendron used had a racial epithet in white paint on the barrel, as well as the number 14, a government official said.
The song allegedly refers to a 14-word statement attributed to a white supremacist terror organization.
In addition to the semi-automatic weapon, Gendron also had a shotgun and a shotgun, which were recently legally purchased, according to police.
Classmates said he sometimes behaved strangely and held extremist views on politics. A former student claimed that Gendron wore a hazmat suit to school for a week last year to protect himself from Covid, the Daily Mail reports.
“It was the most extravagant thing I’ve ever seen him do,” said the source, who would not be named.
The gunman, who was wearing body armor and a helmet, was arrested after the massacre, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference.
Mr Gramaglia estimated the toll at 10 dead and three injured. Eleven of the victims were African Americans.
The gunman shot four people in the parking lot of the Tops supermarket, three of them fatally, then went inside and continued shooting, Gramaglia said.
Among the dead in the store was a retired police officer who worked as an armed security guard.
The guard “involved the suspect, fired several shots”, but the gunman shot him, Mr Gramaglia said.
He added that when police arrived, the gunman put the gun to his neck but was talked down and surrendered.
Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Buffalo, told the news conference that the shooting is under investigation as a hate crime.
“We are investigating this incident as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” said Mr Belongia.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia described the attack as “pure evil”. “It was outright racially motivated hate crime by someone outside of our community,” he said.
When asked what information led authorities to call the attack a hate crime, Erie County District attorney John Flynn said they had evidence pointing to “racial hostility” but declined to elaborate.
US media has reported that officials are investigating a detailed “manifesto” posted online before the shooting, in which the suspect outlines his plans and racially motivated motives for the attack.
Quote from the manifesto,The New York Timesreported that the suspect was “inspired” by white racial violence, including the massacre of 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019.
District attorney Flynn said in the press conference that the gunman used an “assault weapon” — a term that can apply to types of rifles and shotguns in New York City — but did not specify what kind.
When asked at the earlier press conference whether the gunman could face the death penalty at the federal level, US Attorney for the Western District of New York, Trini Ross, said: “All options are on the table as we proceed with the investigation.”
‘Day of Great Pain’
Byron Brown, the mayor of Buffalo — located in western New York state along the US border with Canada — said the gunman “traveled hours outside of this community to commit this crime.”
“This is a day of great pain for our community,” said Mr Brown.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said US President Joe Biden had been informed of the “horrific shooting.” In a statement, Mr Biden thanked police and first responders and denounced the attack.
“Any act of domestic terrorism, including one committed in the name of an abhorrent white nationalist ideology, contradicts everything we stand for in America,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the senior U.S. Senator from New York, said in a tweet, “We stand behind the people of Buffalo.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul described the killings as a “horrific white supremacist shooting” in a tweet that also praised the supermarket security guard as “a true hero”.
A spokesperson for streaming service Twitch confirmed to AFP that the shooter was using the service to broadcast the attack.
“We have investigated and confirmed that we have removed the stream less than two minutes after the violence started,” the spokesperson said, adding: “We are taking all appropriate steps, including checking accounts rebroadcasting this content. “
wave of gun violence
The Buffalo shooting follows other recent cases of racially motivated mass murders in the United States.
In 2019, a white gunman traveled for hours across the state of Texas, killing 23 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, where the vast majority of the population is Hispanic.
Four years earlier, in Charleston, South Carolina, a white man opened fire at an African-American church, killing nine.
In both cases, the men posted hate-filled manifestos online before firing.
Despite recurring mass shootings and a nationwide wave of gun violence, multiple gun regulation reform initiatives in Congress have failed, forcing states and local councils to impose their own restrictions.
The United States suffered 19,350 homicides involving firearms in 2020, an increase of nearly 35 percent from 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its latest data.
Originally published as the New York gunman’s bizarre actions leading up to the killing: ‘He wanted to do a shooting’