A heavily armed 18-year-old white man on Saturday shot 10 people dead at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store in a “racially motivated” attack that he livestreamed on camera, authorities said.
The gunman, who was wearing body armor and a helmet, was arrested after the massacre, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference.
Gramaglia put the toll at 10 dead and three wounded. Eleven of the victims were African Americans.
The gunman shot four people in the parking lot of the Tops supermarket, three of them fatally, then went inside and continued firing, Gramaglia said.
Among those killed inside the store was a retired police officer working as an armed security guard.
The guard “engaged the suspect, fired multiple shots,” but the gunman shot him, Gramaglia said.
When police arrived, the shooter put the gun to his neck, but was talked down and surrendered, he said.
Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo field office, told the news conference that the shooting is being investigated as a hate crime.
“We are investigating this incident as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” Belongia said.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia described the attack as “pure evil.”
“It was straight up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community,” he said.
When asked what information led authorities to term the attack a hate crime, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said they had evidence indicating “racial animosity,” but declined to elaborate.
US media outlets have reported that officials are investigating a detailed “manifesto” posted online before the shooting, in which the suspect outlined his plans and racial motivations for the attack.
Quoting from the manifesto, the New York Times reported the suspect had been “inspired” by white supremacist acts of violence, including the massacre of 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019.
A semi-automatic weapon used in Saturday’s shooting also had a racial epithet written on it, as well as the number 14 — a reference to a white supremacist phrase — the Buffalo News reported, citing a local official.
Flynn told the news conference that the shooter used an “assault weapon” — a term that can apply to types of rifles and shotguns in New York — but did not specify which kind.
Flynn’s office wrote on Twitter on Saturday night that the suspect — identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York — had been arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of life without parole. He is being held without bail.
Asked during the earlier news conference if the shooter could face the death penalty at the federal level, the US Attorney for the Western District of New York Trini Ross, said: “All options are on the table as we go forward with the investigation.”
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