A gunman motivated by hate and dressed in tactical gear killed 10 people and wounded three others Saturday afternoon at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket, officials said.
Officials said he streamed the attack on a social media platform.
The suspect, an 18-year-old white man dressed in tactical gear was taken into custody after shooting 13 people at the Tops Friendly Market supermarket, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said
The suspect is said to be from a distant part of the state and was live-streaming the shooting, Gramaglia said.
He will be arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder, local officials said.
“This was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said at a news conference. “Straight up racially motivated, hate crime from somebody outside of our community — outside of the City of Good Neighbors, as the mayor said — coming into our community and trying to inflict evil upon us.”
Four store employees, including a security guard, were among the victims. Eleven of the shooting victims are Black, two are white, Gramaglia said.
Stephen Belongia, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Buffalo area, said the case would be investigated as a hate crime and a tragedy of “racially motivated violent extremism.”
Three senior law enforcement officials identified the suspect as Payton Gendron.
The suspect appeared to have the N-word written or etched on one of the weapons, law enforcement sources said.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the suspect “is not from this area and is from hours away and drove to Buffalo” to commit the crime.
“This is the worst nightmare that any community can face,” he said.
Brown said he had helped bring the Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue to the Black community and that many people he knew, as well as his own family, patronized the store.
A heavily armed man wearing tactical gear went to the store on Jefferson Avenue about 2:30 p.m. and opened fire in the parking lot. He fatally shot three people and wounded one before entering the store and continuing to shoot, Gramaglia said.
A security guard returned fire but because the suspect had on ballistic protection, the rounds didn’t appear to penetrate. The suspect returned fire and fatally shot the guard, the said.
The guard was a retired Buffalo police officer and was beloved, Gramaglia said.
The suspect then continued to walk through the store shooting, he said. Responding Buffalo officers engaged the suspect in the store’s vestibule, and the man responded by putting a gun to his neck, the commissioner said.
The officers talked him into surrendering, Gramaglia said. He removed his tactical gear before officers took him into custody, he said.
At least two rifles have been recovered from the scene, according to law enforcement sources. Officials at the press conference said the shooter used a semiautomatic rifle.
Details about why they believe the man was motivated by racial hatred were not revealed. Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said, “Certain pieces of evidence ascertained … indicate some racial animosity.”
The NAACP of Buffalo said in a statement, “We are praying for the victims of the senseless act of violence the taken place in our community.”
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism said it in a tweet that Saturday’s shooting appeared to be the worst hate-based mass shooting in the nation since the mass shooting in El Paso in 2019, when 23 people were killed and numerous people injured at a Walmart.
President Joe Biden was briefed on the shooting by his Homeland Security adviser, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
“The President and the First Lady are praying for those who have been lost and for their loved ones,” she said in a statement.
York Gov. Kathy Hochul said she was “closely monitoring” the shooting and offered assistance to local officials.
Tops Friendly Markets spokeswoman Kathleen A. Sautter said in a statement, “We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
“Our top priority remains the health and well-being of our associates and customers,” she said. “We appreciate the quick response of local law enforcement and are providing all available resources to assist authorities in the ongoing investigation.”
Brown, the mayor, urged the Buffalo community and the nation not to let the attack inspire further division.
“Many of us know those who are victims of this horrific crime,” he said. “So this is painful.”
He noted that Buffalo’s motto is “City of Good Neighbors.”
“We can’t let an evil person divide this community and an evil person divide our country,” Brown said.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Michael Kosnar contributed.