An 18-year-old white man wearing military gear and broadcasting live with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, killing 10 people and wounding three others on Saturday in what authorities described as ” racially motivated violent extremism.
Police said they shot 11 black and two white victims before turning themselves in to authorities in a rampage that was broadcast live on the streaming platform Twitch.
Later, he appeared before a judge in a paper medical gown and was arraigned on a murder charge.
“It is my sincere hope that this individual, this white supremacist who has just perpetrated a hate crime on an innocent community, spends the rest of his days behind bars. And heaven help him in the next world too,” Governor Kathy said. Hochul, speaking near the scene of the attack.
The massacre shocked an unstable nation gripped by racial tensions, gun violence and a series of hate crimes. The day before the shooting, Dallas police said they were investigating a series of Koreatown shootings as hate crimes. The Buffalo attack came just a month after another mass shooting on a Brooklyn subway train injured 10 people.
The suspected gunman in Saturday’s attack on the 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 to that particular grocery store. A clip apparently from his Twitch account, posted on social media, showed Gendron arriving at the supermarket in his car.
The gunman shot four people outside the store, three fatally, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. Inside the store, a security guard who was a retired Buffalo police officer fired several shots, but a bullet that struck the shooter’s bulletproof vest had no effect, Gramaglia added.
The gunman then killed the guard, the commissioner said, and then went through the store and shot other victims.
“This is the worst nightmare any community can face, and we are hurting and we are angry right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at the news conference. “The depth of pain that families are feeling and that all of us are feeling right now cannot even be explained.”
Police entered the store and confronted the gunman in the lobby.
“At that point, the suspect put the gun to his neck,” Gramaglia said. Two officers convinced him to drop the gun, the commissioner said.
Twitch said in a statement that it ended Gendron’s stream “less than two minutes after the violence began.”
At the press conference earlier, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia pointedly called the shooting a hate crime.
“This was pure evil. It was straight up a racially motivated hate crime from someone outside of our community, outside of 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 in their 20s, entered the parking lot just as the shooter was leaving. They described a white male 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 thought, what the hell is going on? Why does this guy have a gun to his face?” Kephart said. He fell to his knees. “He took off his helmet, dropped his gun and was accosted by police.”
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.”
Authorities said the rifle Gendron used in the attack was purchased legally, but the magazines he used as ammunition could not be sold in New York.
The shooting comes just over a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information on why they believe the man accused of that attack targeted the supermarket.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson issued a statement in which he called the Buffalo shooting “absolutely devastating.”
“Our hearts go out to the community and everyone who has been affected by this terrible tragedy. Hate and racism have no place in America. We are heartbroken, extremely angry, and pray for the families and loved ones of the victims,” he added.
The Rev. Al Sharpton called on the White House to convene a meeting with Black, Jewish and Asian leaders “to underscore that the federal government (is) stepping up its efforts against hate crimes.”
At the White House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden was receiving regular updates on the shooting and the investigation and had offered prayers with the first lady for the victims and their loved ones.
“The President has been briefed by his National Security Advisor on the horrific shooting in Buffalo, New York, this afternoon. He will continue to receive updates overnight and tomorrow as more information develops,” he said.
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 boyfriend, they broke up and went to different hallways,” she said. “A bullet barely hit him. He was able to hide in a freezer, but he couldn’t get to my aunt and he doesn’t know where she is. We’d like to know if she’s okay anyway.”
Associated Press reporters Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report. Balsamo reported from Washington and Collins reported from Hartford, Connecticut.