Ten people have been killed in a shooting in New York state that is being investigated as a racially-motivated hate crime.
According to the Associated Press, the incident took place at around 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Tops Friendly Market, where an armed suspected dressed in military fatigues arrived at the store with a rifle. Authorities say the gunman opened fire in the parking lot, and wounded several patrons. He then made his way into the store and began shooting more victims; one of whom was a retired Buffalo police officer working security at the grocery store.
As of press time, 10 people have been confirmed dead, while three others were injured. Two of the surviving victims are said to be in critical condition.
Investigators say gunman was live-streaming the attack through a camera that was attached to his helmet. The suspect was taken into custody shortly after he opened fire.
“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?” said 20-year-old Braedyn Kephart, who pulled into the store parking lot as the suspect was exiting. “He dropped to his. He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun, and was tackled by the police.”
Authorities have identified the suspect as Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old white male who lived about 200 miles outside of Buffalo. Though authorities have yet to confirm a motive, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn says there is evidence that the attack was a racial hate crime.
Media are reporting the Buffalo suspect was 18-years-old and had an AR-15. He live-streamed the shooting after posting a manifesto claiming white people are being replaced by other races, and identified himself as a white supremacist and anti-Semite. https://t.co/lLq8ZYOg58
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) May 14, 2022
“This was pure evil,” said Erie County Sheriff John Garcia. “It was straight up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community, outside of the City of Good neighbors … coming into our community and trying to inflict that evil upon us.”
The grocery store is reportedly located in a predominately Black neighborhood. Police say 11 of the victims were Black and two were white.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence and our thoughts and prayer are with the victims and their families,” Tops Friendly Markets said in a statement to CNN. “Our top priority remains the health and well-being of our associates and customers. We appreciate the quick response by local law enforcement and are providing all available resources to assist authorities in the ongoing investigation.”
The suspect was reportedly being questioned by the FBI on Saturday night. He’s expected to make his first court appearance later today.
Alleged gunman Payton Gendron was arraigned Saturday on first-degree murder charges.
The 18-year-old, who was a student at SUNY Broome Community College in New York, pleaded not guilty.
“I understand my charges,” he said in court, just hours after he carried out the deadly shooting. The suspect could face up to life in prison without parole if convicted of the charges.
According to Buffalo News, Gendron was investigated by police in summer 2021, when officers received report that the then-high-schooler had threatened violence against his classmates.
“A school official reported that this very troubled young man had made statements indicating that he wanted to do a shooting, either at a graduation ceremony, or sometime after,” an official told the outlet.
Gendron was subsequently placed under mental health evaluation and referred to counseling.