BUFFALO — Vigils and prayer services were held across the city on Sunday after authorities said a teenage gunman with tactical gear and a live-streaming camera killed 10 people and injured three others in a hateful rampage at a busy supermarket.
Eleven of the 13 people shot were black, said Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. The suspect arrested at the scene is white. The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism.
Voice Buffalo and other justice advocacy groups organized a vigil near the scene of the shooting that drew hundreds of people Sunday morning. Among the speakers was Rev. Mark Blue, President of the Buffalo NAACP, who called for unity among residents of all races.
Blue said everyone must “continue to support those who have been victims of this heinous act” of racism.
“There are too many injuries in our community,” Blue said. “We are only stronger when we are together.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, speaking at a Sunday morning service at Buffalo’s True Bethel Baptist Church, said Saturday’s attack was “not an accidental act of violence.”
We must “silence the voices of hate and white supremacy across the internet,” Hochul said.
“It’s in a league of its own … a whole new dimension,” she said. “I want to silence those voices now, I want them to speak out about Buffalo as the last place this ever happened. We’re going to let this end here.”
WHAT WE KNOW:10 dead, 3 injured in shooting at Buffalo store
Here’s what we know:
The suspect was armed with an assault rifle
The suspect, identified by authorities as Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, New York, traveled across the state for several hours to carry out the attack, authorities said.
“It seems like he came here to explore the area, to do a little reconnaissance work in the area before carrying out his simply evil, disgusting act,” Gramaglia said.
Buffalo Police Department Gramaglia said Gendron was armed with an assault rifle and arrived at Tops Friendly Markets around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Four people were shot dead in the parking lot, three of whom died at the scene. After Gendron entered the store, “he started chatting up customers inside,” Gramaglia said.
The suspect was carrying a camera and a live stream. Online platform Twitch said in a statement that it ended the live stream “less than two minutes after the violence began.”
Jennifer Tooke said she was walking through the store when she heard gunshots.
“I ran through the deli and ran out the back door to get away from him,” she said. “When I came out of here, all I saw were bodies lying in front of the store.”
BUFFALO SHOOTING:Gov. Kathy Hochul accuses ‘white supremacist’
She circled back to the parking lot where she saw several bodies on the ground in front of the store. She retrieved her phone from her car and called her cousin, who was also at the store when gunshots erupted. Her cousin hid in a freezer and was not hurt, she said. The couple reconnected outside.
“It was scary,” Tookes said, adding that the store was packed at the time and that others were also running out the back door. “Many people escaped, thank God.”
She said she didn’t see the gunman, but when she heard the shots she “just started running.”
FBI investigates alleged 180-page manifesto
Federal agents were interviewing Gendron’s parents and working to confirm the authenticity of a 180-page manifesto that was posted online, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Sunday. The manifesto detailed the conspiracy and identified Gendron by name as the shooter, the official said. Authorities say the shooting was motivated by racial hatred.
Gendron’s parents were cooperating with investigators, the official said. The officer was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation into Saturday afternoon’s shooting and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the devastating scenario has rocked federal, state and local law enforcement officials, who are also investigating the racially motivated extremists who brought carnage to Charleston, El Paso, Pittsburgh and Charlottesville. The details of the Buffalo attack are as startling as they are familiar: a lone gunman, said to be driven by long-simmering racial enemies, opens fire with the apparent aim of taking the lives of black people.
FBI Director Christopher Wray made perhaps the most disheartening assessment of an increasingly toxic threat in testimony before a Senate committee last year, saying that racially motivated attackers constituted the deadliest and “largest chunk” of an estimated 2,000 open domestic terrorism investigations across the country Country.
Biden on Buffalo shooting: Hate remains a ‘stain on America’s soul’
President Joe Biden on Sunday called on Americans to “work together to address the hate that remains a stain on America’s soul.” receives news of the Buffalo shooting and is in close contact with the Justice Department.
“The Justice Department has already publicly stated that it is investigating the matter as a hate crime, a racially motivated act of white supremacy and violent extremism,” Biden said. “As they do, we must all work together to address the hatred that remains a stain on America’s soul.” Our hearts are heavy once again, but our resolve must never waver.”
He said he has not yet spoken to family members of the victims, who were mostly black. The grocery store is located in a predominantly African American neighborhood of Buffalo.
“Jill and I, like all of you, pray for the victims and their families and a devastated community,” he said. “You have been pulled as if you are being pulled into a black hole in your chest and there is no way out. Jill and I know. We know of no memorial, no gesture can fill the emptiness in the hearts they have now.”
Vice President Kamala Harris lamented the “epidemic of hatred in our country, which has manifested itself in acts of violence and intolerance. We must denounce and condemn them.”
Security guard who confronted gunman identified
A retired Buffalo police officer identified by authorities as Aaron Salter, who worked as a security guard at the store, confronted the gunman and shot him. Those bullets hit the attacker’s tactical vest and prevented injury, Gramaglia said. The gunman returned fire and Salter was fatally shot
The gunman “worked his way through the store,” shooting others, and was confronted in the store’s lobby by Buffalo police. said the police. The suspect pointed his own gun at his neck and police convinced him to drop the gun and surrender.
Authorities say the suspect live-streamed the attack on social media. Footage shows the gunman, dressed in military gear, stopping in front of the store with a rifle in the front seat and then pointing the rifle at people in the parking lot as he exits the vehicle, opens fire and enters the store.
Salter is “a hero in our eyes,” said Gramaglia.
Hochul described the shooter as a ‘white supremacist’
Hochul called the shooter a “white supremacist” who terrorized New York’s second largest city in a “cold-hearted,” “military execution” as people bought groceries.
“It breaks our hearts to know that there is so much evil out there,” she said. “This person – this white supremacist – who just committed a hate crime against an innocent community is going to spend the rest of his days behind bars. And heaven help him in the world to come.”
The suspect carried an assault weapon labeled with a racial nickname, US Rep. Brian Higgins said, citing briefings with law enforcement officials.
The suspect’s attorney requests a psychiatric evaluation for the client
Gendron was charged with first-degree murder Saturday night before Buffalo Municipal Court Judge Craig Hannah. Officials said they would weigh additional charges in the coming days.
Gendron’s attorney, Brian Parker, has requested that his client undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Hannah ordered Gendron held without bail. He will return to court for a felony hearing on Thursday morning.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that investigators are looking into whether Gendron posted a manifesto online. The official was not allowed to comment publicly on the matter and did so on condition of anonymity.
Buffalo police declined to comment on the document, which focuses on racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic beliefs, including a desire to evict all people of non-European descent from the United States. The document showed that Gendron was inspired by the gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques in 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said the suspect faces a variety of charges, including hate crime charges. Hochul said she has directed the state’s hate crimes task force to launch an investigation.
Gendron could also face federal charges.
“We are investigating this incident as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” said Stephen Belongia, special counsel for the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office.
Gendron graduated from Susquehanna Valley High School in Conklin, about 10 miles southeast of Binghamton near the New York-Pennsylvania border. He had been a student at SUNY Broome Community College.
Featuring: Christal Hayes, Kevin Johnson and Claire Thornton, USA TODAY, Sean Lahman, Rochester (New York) Democrat and Chronicle; The Associated Press