Buffalo, New York (Associated Press) – An 18-year-old white man in military uniform who broadcasts live with a helmet camera opened fire from a rifle at a Buffalo supermarket, killing 10 people and wounding three others Saturday 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 rampage broadcast live on Twitch.
Later, he appeared before a judge in a medical gown and was sentenced for premeditated murder.
“I sincerely hope that this individual, this white supremacist who has just committed a hate crime against an innocent community, will spend the rest of his days behind bars. Heaven helps him in the next world as well,” Governor Kathy Hochhol, speaking near the scene of the attack, said.
The massacre sent shockwaves through an unstable nation plagued by ethnic tensions, armed violence and a spate of hate crimes. The day before the shooting, Dallas police said they were investigating Series of shootings in Koreatown as hate crimes. The Buffalo attack came just one month after another mass shooting on a Brooklyn subway that injured 10 people.
The suspected gunman in Saturday’s attack on Tops Friendly Market has been identified as Payton Gendron, of Conklin, New York, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Buffalo.
It wasn’t immediately clear why Payton would travel to Buffalo and this grocery store. A video clip from his Twitch feed, posted on social media, showed Gendron arriving at the supermarket in his car.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Grammaglia said the gunman shot four people outside the store, killing three of them. Inside the store, security guard Aaron Salter, a retired Buffalo police officer, fired several shots. Grammaglia said a bullet hit the armed man’s bulletproof armor but had no effect.
The commissioner said that the gunman then killed the guard, then flew into the store and shot other victims.
The police entered the store and confronted the gunman in the vestibule. Grammaglia said he put his gun to his neck, but two officers spoke to him to drop the gun.
“This is the worst nightmare any community can face, and we are hurting and angry right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at the press conference. “The depth of pain that families feel and that we all feel now cannot even be explained.”
Twitch said in a statement that it terminated Gendron’s broadcast “less than two minutes after the violence began.”
A law enforcement official told the Associated Press that investigators are looking into whether he posted a statement online. The official was not allowed to speak publicly on the matter and did so on the condition of anonymity.
Buffalo police declined to comment on the document, which has been widely circulated online, and which it claims outlines the attacker’s racist, anti-immigrant and antisemitic beliefs, including the desire to expel all people of non-European origin from the United States. 51 people were murdered at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.
At the previous press conference, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia called the shooting a hate crime.
“This was pure evil. It was (a) a racially motivated hate crime straight out of someone outside our community, outside the city of good neighbors… getting into our community and trying to inflict this evil on us,” Garcia said.
Among the dead was Ruth Whitfield, 86, the mother of a retired Buffalo fire commissioner.
My mother was the mother of the girl. “It’s been a blessing to all of us,” former Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield told the Buffalo News.
Witnesses Braden Kephart and Shane Hill, both in their 20s, stormed the parking lot as the shooter was leaving.
“He was standing there with the gun on his chin. We were like what the hell is going on? Why does this kid have a gun to his face?” Kephart said. He got on his knees. “He took off his helmet, dropped his rifle, and was confronted by the police.”
Officials said Gendron’s rifle used in the attack was legally purchased but the magazines he used for ammunition were not allowed for sale 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 know more about the motivation behind today’s shootings as law enforcement does their job, but we don’t need anything else to state an obvious moral truth: racially motivated hate crime is distasteful to the fabric of this nation,” he said. “Any act of domestic terrorism, including one committed in the name of a hateful white nationalist ideology, goes against everything we stand for in America.”
Tops Friendly Markets issued a statement saying, “We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless violent act 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 grocery in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information about why they believe the man accused in the attack targeted the supermarket.
NAACP President Derek Johnson issued a statement calling the buffalo shooting “extremely devastating.”
“Hate and racism have no place in America,” he said.
Reverend Al Sharpton called on the White House to convene a meeting with black, Jewish and Asian leaders to demonstrate the federal commitment to fighting hate crimes.
More than two hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh Matthews was waiting outside the store, behind the police bar.
We would like to know the standing of my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was there with her fiancé, they broke up and went to different lanes. “A bullet hardly missed. He managed to hide in the fridge but he couldn’t reach my aunt and he doesn’t know where she is. We would just like a word either way if she was ok.”
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.