BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Shoppers out on a weekend afternoon and a retired police officer working as a security guard were among the 10 shot and killed at a Buffalo supermarket by a white teenager who authorities say was motivated by racial hatred.
Police said Payton Gendron shot, in total, 11 Black people and two white people Saturday in a rampage at the Tops Friendly Market that the 18-year-old broadcast live before surrendering to authorities.
Among the dead was security guard Aaron Salter — a retired Buffalo police officer — who fired multiple shots at Gendron, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Saturday. A bullet hit the gunman's armor, but had no effect. Gendron then killed Salter, before hunting more victims.
Also killed was Ruth Whitfield, 86, the mother of retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield who told the Buffalo News that his “mother was a mother to the motherless.”
“She was a blessing to us all,” he added.
Katherine Massey, who had gone to the store to pick up some groceries, also was killed, according to the newspaper.
It wasn't immediately clear why Gendron had traveled about 200 miles from his Conklin, New York, to Buffalo and that particular grocery store, located in a predominantly Black neighborhood, but screenshots purporting to be from the Twitch broadcast appear to show a racial epithet scrawled on the rifle used in the attack, as well as the number 14, a likely reference to a white supremacist slogan.
At the earlier news briefing, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia pointedly called the shooting a hate crime.
“This was pure evil. It was (a) 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,” Garcia said.
Twitch said in a statement that it ended Gendron’s transmission “less than two minutes after the violence started.”
The massacre sent shockwaves through an unsettled nation gripped with racial tensions, gun violence and a spate of hate crimes. In the day prior to the shooting, Dallas police said they were investigating a series of shootings in Koreatown as hate crimes. The Buffalo attack came just one month after another mass shooting on a Brooklyn subway train wounded 10 people and just over a year after a mass shooting in a Colorado supermarket killed 10.
Gendron, confronted by police in the store's vestibule, put a rifle to his neck but was convinced to drop it. He was arraigned later Saturday on a murder charge, appearing before a judge in a paper gown.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that investigators were looking into whether he had posted a manifesto online. The official was not permitted to speak publicly on the matter and did so on the condition of anonymity.
Buffalo police declined to comment on the document, circulated widely online, that purports to outline the attacker’s racist, anti-immigrant and antisemitic beliefs, including a desire to drive all people not of European descent from the U.S. It said he drew inspiration the man who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A gunman wearing military-style clothing and body armor opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing at least 10 people before being taken into custody Saturday afternoon, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.
Details on the number of additional people shot at the Tops Friendly Market and their conditions weren’t immediately available. The two officials were not permitted to speak publicly on the matter and did so on the condition of anonymity. The suspect was being questioned Saturday evening by the FBI, one of the officials said.
Investigators believe the gunman may have been streaming the shooting through a camera affixed to his helmet, one of the officials said. The video showed the gunman, dressed in military gear, pulling up to the front of the store with a rifle on the front seat and then pointing the rifle at people in the parking lot as he exited the vehicle and opening fire, the official said.
It also shows the suspect walking into the supermarket and shooting several other victims inside, the official said. One of the victims was a recently retired police officer who was working as a security guard at the store, according to the official.
One of the officials cautioned the investigation was in its preliminary stages and that authorities hadn’t yet discerned a clear motive, but were investigating whether the shooting was racially motivated.
The supermarket is in a predominately Black neighborhood, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) north of downtown Buffalo. The surrounding area is primarily residential, with a Family Dollar store and fire station near the store.
Buffalo police confirmed the shooter was in custody in a tweet, but did not identify the suspect. Police officials did not immediately respond to messages from the AP seeking comment.
Witnesses reported the gunman was wearing military-style clothing in addition to the body armor, one of the officials said
Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the shooter was exiting. They described him as a white male in his late teens or early twenties sporting full camo, a black helmet and what appeared to be a rifle.
“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?” Kephart said. He dropped to his knees. “He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun, and was tackled by the police.”
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 has been briefed by his Homeland Security advisor on the horrific shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., this afternoon. He will continue to receive updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as further information develops,” she said, adding the president and first lady were praying for the victims and their loved ones.
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 off the block, lined by spectators, and yellow police taped surrounded the full parking lot. Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were at the scene late Saturday afternoon, gathered in a parking lot across the street from the Tops store and expected to address the media.
More than two hours of the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews was waiting 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 fiance, they separated and went to different aisles,” she said. “A bullet barely missed him. He was able to hide in a freezer but he was not able to get to my aunt and does not know where she is. We just would like word either way if she’s OK.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was “closely monitoring the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo,” her hometown. She said state officials have offered help to local authorities. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office said on social media that it ordered all available personnel to assist Buffalo police.
Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said.
The shooting came little more than a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Soopers grocery in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information about why they believe the man charged in that attack targeted the supermarket.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A gunman opened fire with a rifle Saturday at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities called a “hate crime and racially motived violent extremism,” killing 10 people and wounding three others before being taken in custody, law enforcement officials said.
The suspect was identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo in New York state, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials were not permitted to speak publicly on the matter and did so on the condition of anonymity. The suspect was being questioned Saturday evening by the FBI, one of the officials said.
Officials said 11 of the victims are Black and two are white. The shooting happened in a predominantly Black neighborhood a few miles (kilometers) north of downtown Buffalo.