'Pure evil': At least 10 dead, 3 injured in 'racially motivated' shooting at Buffalo supermarket

'Pure evil': At least 10 dead, 3 injured in 'racially motivated' shooting at Buffalo supermarket

  • 13 people were shot, 10 fatally, Saturday afternoon at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York.
  • The Associated Press identified the suspect as Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York.
  • Law enforcement officials have called the shooting a “racially motivated hate crime.”

Ten people were killed and three others injured in a “racially motivated” shooting at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, authorities said. 

Officials said the suspected gunman, a white 18-year-old man, traveled several hours to Buffalo to carry out the attack, which he livestreamed on social media. Eleven of the 13 people who were shot were Black, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a news conference.

The suspect was taken into custody after the attack, Gramaglia added. He was identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, a New York community about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials were not permitted to speak publicly on the matter and did so on the condition of anonymity.

“This was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said. “It was a straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community.”

The supermarket is about three miles north of downtown Buffalo and residents describe it as being in the heart of the city’s Black community. The surrounding area is primarily residential and is surrounded by homes, along with a Family Dollar store, barber shops, a laundromat and fire station. Authorities said evidence showed the suspect showed racial animosity but declined to elaborate. 

Gramaglia said the gunman was wearing tactical gear and was armed with an assault-styled rifle. He parked outside the Tops Friendly Market around 2:30 p.m. ET and opened fire in the parking lot, killing three people and injuring a fourth. He then went inside and continued his rampage, Gramaglia said.

A retired Buffalo police officer, who was working as a security guard at the store, confronted the gunman and shot him. Authorities said the gunman was hit, but his tactical gear prevented injury. 

The gunman returned fire, killing the guard. 

The gunman made his way through the store, firing at others before he was met by law enforcement near the lobby. Authorities said the gunman had his weapon pointed at his head and authorities were able to negotiate his surrender. 

“This is the worst nightmare that any community can face, and we are hurting and we are seething right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference. “The depth of pain that families are feeling and that all of us are feeling right now cannot even be explained.”

The Buffalo attack and the quick determination that the assault was racially motivated drew early parallels to the 2019 attack in El Paso, Texas where a gun man confessed to traveling hundreds of miles to target Hispanics at a local Walmart. The Texas attack left 23 dead. In the Buffalo case, a law enforcement official said, investigators are examining writings allegedly linked to the shooter indicating that the assault was motivated by hate.

The shooting also came nearly seven years after the racially motivated attack at a historically Black church in Charleston, S.C., which left nine people dead and sent shockwaves across the country.

“We are investigating this incident as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” said Stephen Belongia, special agent of charge of the FBI’s Buffalo field office. 

In the past year, FBI Director Christopher Wray has repeatedly warned of the threat posed by racially motivated violent extremists, telling Congress that such cases represent the “biggest chunk” of the bureau’s domestic terrorism investigations. The same group, Wray told a Senate committee last year, were responsible for the most lethal attacks in the past decade.

May 14 2022: Police speak to bystanders while investigating after a shooting at a supermarket on Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y. Officials said the gunman entered the supermarket with a rifle and opened fire.

John Flynn, Erie County’s district attorney, said the suspect was arraigned Saturday evening on first-degree murder charges. 

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Authorities say the gunman livestreamed the attack to social media. The footage shows the gunman, dressed in military gear, pulling up to the front of the store with a rifle on the front seat and then pointing the rifle at people in the parking lot as he exited the vehicle and opening fire, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. 

It also shows the suspect walking into the supermarket and shooting several other victims, the official said. 

Authorities were also looking into whether he had posted a manifesto online, the official said.

Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, said they’d just pulled into the parking lot of the store when they saw the alleged gunman leaving and being taken into custody.

“He was standing there with the gun to his chin. We were like what the heck is going on? Why does this kid have a gun to his face?” Kephart said. He dropped to his knees. “He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun, and was tackled by the police.”

Police closed off the block, lined by spectators, and yellow police taped surrounded the full parking lot. Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were at the scene late Saturday afternoon, gathered in a parking lot across the street from the Tops store.

More:Court upholds death sentence for Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof

President Joe Biden was briefed on the attack and was praying for those affected, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. 

NAACP President Derrick Johnson called the shooting “absolutely devastating.”

“Our hearts are with the community and all who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy. Hate and racism have no place in America. We are shattered, extremely angered and praying for the victims’ families and loved ones,” he added in a statement.

The Rev. Al Sharpton issued a series of posts on Twitter, calling on the White House to convene a meeting with Black, Jewish and Asian “to underscore the Federal government (is) escalating its efforts against hate crimes.” He added “leaders of all these communities should stand together on this!”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said she is “closely monitoring” the shooting and that she has offered assistance to those in Buffalo, her hometown, according to her Twitter account

Buffalo is New York’s second-largest city, with a population of more than 278,000 people. 

Contributing: Diana Dombrowski, Journal News; The Associated Press.

'Pure evil': At least 10 dead, 3 injured in 'racially motivated' shooting at Buffalo supermarket

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