A teenage military-style gunman opened fire with a rifle at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, during a shooting that authorities called a “hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism” that killed ten people and injured three others before surrendering. to the police on Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
Police officials said the 18-year-old gunman, who is white, was wearing body armor and military-style clothing when he stopped and opened fire on people at a Tops Friendly Market around 2:30 p.m., the shooting being streamed through a camera mounted on the helmet of the man.
He later appeared before a judge in a paper doctor’s coat and was charged with murder.
“He got out of his vehicle. He was very heavily armed. He had tactical gear. He was wearing a tactical helmet. He had a camera where he was live-streaming what he was doing,” City Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a news conference after the match.
According to the Associated Press, the shooting was broadcast live on the streaming platform Twitch for at least two minutes before the service ended its broadcast.
Gramaglia said the gunman initially shot four people outside the store, three fatally. Inside the store, a guard, a retired Buffalo police officer, fired multiple shots at the gunman and hit him, but the bullet hit the gunman’s body armor and had no effect, Gramaglia added. The commissioner said the gunman then killed the guard.
Buffalo police told 2 On Your Side that a total of 13 people were shot. Eleven of the victims are black, two are white. Four of the victims were shop workers, authorities said.
Gramaglia said Buffalo police entered the store and confronted the gunman in the vestibule.
“At that moment, the suspect put the gun to his own neck. Buffalo police personnel – two patrol officers – persuaded the suspect to drop the gun. He dropped the gun, took off some of his tactical gear, and then surrendered. And he was led out and put in a police car,” he said.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said: “This is the worst nightmare that can happen to a community, and we are in pain and we are seething right now. The deep pain that families feel and that we all feel right now cannot even be explained.”
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia added: “This was pure evil. It was an outright racist hate crime by someone outside our community, outside the town of good neighbors… who came into our community and tried to do us that harm.”
A spokesman for the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) said they were treating the three survivors, who are currently in stable condition.
The alleged gunman was identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron of Conklin, a community about 200 miles (320 km) southeast of Buffalo, New York.
Wearing a hospital gown, Gendron was summoned to court on Saturday night on charges of first degree murder and held without bail. Another court hearing is scheduled for next week.
The grocery store is located in a predominantly black neighborhood about 3 miles north of downtown Buffalo. The area is primarily residential, with a Family Dollar store and fire station near the market.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson issued a statement calling the shooting “absolutely devastating.”
“Our hearts are with the community and with everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. Hate and racism have no place in America. We are stunned, extremely angry and pray for the families and loved ones of the victims,” he added.
Police closed the block, lined by onlookers, and yellow police tapes surrounded the entire parking lot.
Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the gunman was about to leave. They described him as a white man 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 the hell is going on? Why does this boy have a gun to his face?” said Kephart. He fell to his knees. “He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun and was tackled by the police.”
Speaking at the White House, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Joe Biden receives regular updates about the shooting and its aftermath.
“The president has been briefed by his homeland security adviser about the horrific shooting in Buffalo, New York, this afternoon. He will continue to receive updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as more information comes in,” she said, adding Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, praying for the victims and their loved ones.
Tops Friendly Markets released 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.”
Police closed the block, lined by spectators, and yellow police tape encircled the entire parking lot.
More than two hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews waited outside the store, behind the police tape.
“We would like to know the status of my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was in there with her fiancé, they broke up and went to different aisles,” she said. “A bullet narrowly missed him. He could hide in a freezer, but he couldn’t get to my aunt and doesn’t know where she is. We’d like to hear from both sides if she’s okay.”
Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was “closely watching the shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo”, her hometown. She said state officials have offered assistance to local authorities.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office said on social media that it had instructed all available personnel to assist the Buffalo Police Department.