By CAROLYN THOMPSON, JOHN WAWROW, MICHAEL BALSAMO and DAVE COLLINS
BUFFALO, NY (AP) — A white 18-year-old wearing military gear and livestreaming a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a Buffalo supermarket, killing 10 and wounding three others in what authorities described as “racially motivated violent extremism.”
Police said he shot 11 black and two white victims before surrendering to authorities in a frenzy which he broadcast live on the streaming platform Twitch.
He later appeared before a judge in a paper doctor’s coat and was charged with murder.
“It is my sincere hope that this person, this white supremacist who has just committed a hate crime against an innocent community, will spend the rest of his days behind bars. And heaven helps him in the next world too,” Governor Kathy Hochul said, speaking near the site of the attack.
The massacre sent shockwaves through a troubled nation gripped by racial tensions, gun violence and a wave of hate crimes. The day before the shooting, Dallas police said they were investigating a series of shootings in Koreatown as hate crimes. The Buffalo attack came just a month after another mass shooting on a Brooklyn subway injured 10 people.
The suspected gunman in Saturday’s attack on Tops Friendly Market was identified as Payton Gendron, of Conklin, New York, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Buffalo.
It was not immediately clear why Payton had traveled to Buffalo and that particular supermarket. A clip apparently posted to social media from his Twitch feed showed Gendron arriving at the grocery store in his car.
The gunman shot and killed four people outside the store, killing three, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. Inside the store, a guard, a retired Buffalo police officer, fired multiple shots, but a bullet that hit the gunman’s body armor had no effect, Gramaglia added.
The gunman then killed the guard, the commissioner said, then walked through the store and shot other victims.
“This is the worst nightmare any community can face, and we are in pain and we are seething right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at the news conference. “The deep pain that families feel and that we all feel right now cannot even be explained.”
Police entered the store and confronted the gunman in the vestibule.
“At that point, the suspect put the gun to his own neck,” Gramaglia said. Two officers persuaded him to drop the weapon, the commissioner said.
Twitch said in a statement it ended Gendron’s broadcast “less than two minutes after the violence began.”
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that investigators were investigating whether he posted a manifesto online. The official was not allowed to speak about the case publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.
Buffalo police declined to comment on the document, which circulated widely online and purports to outline the attacker’s racist, anti-immigrant and antiemetic beliefs, including a desire to kill all people who are not of European descent. to be expelled from the United States. killed 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019.
During the earlier press conference, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia emphatically called the shooting a hate crime.
“This was pure evil. It was (a) outright racist hate crime from someone outside our community, outside the City of Good Neighbors… who came into our community and tried to inflict that evil on us,” Garcia said.
Witnesses Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the gunman was about to leave. They described a white man in his late teens or early twenties wearing full camouflage, a black helmet and 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.”
Officials said the rifle Gendron used in the attack was legally purchased, but the magazines he used for ammunition were not allowed to be sold in New York.
President Joe Biden said in a statement that he and the first lady were praying for the victims and their families.
“We still need to learn more about the motivation for today’s shooting as law enforcement does their job, but we need nothing else to formulate a clear moral truth: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the fabric of this nation,” he said. “Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act committed in the name of an abhorrent white nationalist ideology, contradicts everything we stand for in America.”
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.”
The shooting came just over a year after a March 2021 attack on a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information as to why they believe the man charged in that attack was the supermarket’s target.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson issued a statement calling the Buffalo 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.
Reverend Al Sharpton called on the White House to meet with black, Jewish and Asian leaders “to underline that the federal government is stepping up its efforts against hate crimes”.
Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said.
More than two hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews was waiting outside the store, behind 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.”
Associated Press reporters Eric Tucker in Washington and Aaron Morrison in New York City contributed to this report. Balsamo reported from Washington and Collins reported from Hartford, Connecticut.