10 killed in Buffalo, New York supermarket mass shooting; Investigated as a hate crime

BUFFALO, NY – A military-style gunman opened fire with a rifle at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities called a “hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism,” killing 10 people and injuring three others before being arrested on Saturday. were taken into custody that afternoon, law enforcement officials said.

The gunman was identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, a community about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Buffalo, New York, two law enforcement officers told The Associated Press. The officials were not allowed to speak about the case publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.

The suspect was questioned by the FBI on Saturday night, one of the officials said, and would appear in court later Saturday.

Officials said 11 of the victims were black and two were white. The shooting took place in a predominantly black neighborhood a few miles north of downtown Buffalo.

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“This is the worst nightmare that can happen to any community, and we are in pain and we are seething right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference. “The deep pain that families feel and that we all feel right now cannot even be explained.”

Erie County Sheriff John Garcia added, “This was pure evil. It was an outright racially motivated hate crime by someone outside our community, outside the City of Good Neighbors… who came into our community and tried to harm us.”

Police officials said the gunman opened fire with a rifle at a Tops Friendly Market. Investigators believe he may have streamed the shooting through a camera mounted on his helmet, one of the officials said.

The video showed the gunman pulling up to the front of the store with a rifle in the front seat and then pointing the rifle at people in the parking lot as he exited the vehicle and opened fire, the official said.

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It also shows the suspect walking into the supermarket and shooting several other victims, the official said. One of the victims was a recently retired police officer who, according to the official, worked as a security guard at the store.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson called the 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 in a statement.

Also on Saturday, Rev. Al Sharpton called on the White House to meet with blacks, Jews and Asians “to underline that the federal government is stepping up its efforts against hate crimes.” In a tweet, Sharpton said that “leaders from all these communities should be on this together!”

Witnesses reported that the gunman was wearing military-style clothing in addition to body armor and a helmet, one of the law enforcement officers told the AP.

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Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the gunman was about to leave. They described him as a white man in his late teens or early twenties with full camouflage, a black helmet and what appeared to be a rifle.

“He stood 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 tore off his helmet, dropped his gun and was tackled by the police.”

Speaking at the White House, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden is receiving regular updates on the shooting and its aftermath.

“The President was briefed this afternoon by his Homeland Security adviser about the horrific shooting in Buffalo, NY. He will continue to receive updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as more information comes in,” she said, adding that the president and the first lady were praying for the victims and their loved ones.

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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.”

Police closed the block, lined by onlookers, and yellow police tapes surrounded the entire parking lot. Mayor Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were on the scene late Saturday afternoon, gathered in a parking lot across the street from the Tops store, expecting to address the media.

More than two hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews waited outside the store, behind the 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 barely 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.”

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Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was “closely watching the shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo”, her hometown. She said state officials have offered assistance to local authorities. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office said on social media it had ordered all available personnel to assist the Buffalo Police Department.

Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said.

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.

Associated Press reporters John Wawrow in Buffalo and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report. Balsamo reported from Washington and Collins reported from Hartford, Connecticut.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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