BUFFALO, NY – A gunman dressed in military-style clothing opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket 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 taken into custody on Saturday afternoon, law enforcement officials said.
The shooter was identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, a community about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo, New York, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and did so on condition of anonymity.
The suspect was being questioned Saturday night by the FBI, one of the officials said, and was scheduled to appear in court later Saturday.
Officials said 11 of the victims were black and two were white. The shooting occurred in a predominantly black neighborhood a few miles (kilometres) north of downtown Buffalo.
“This is the worst nightmare any community can face, and we’re hurting and bubbling right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference. “The depth of pain the families are feeling and that we are all feeling right now cannot even be explained.”
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia added, “This was pure evil. This was squarely a racially motivated hate crime by someone outside of our community, outside of the city of good neighbors… coming into our community and trying to inflict this evil upon us.”
Police officials said the shooter opened fire with a rifle at a friendly market in Tops. Investigators believe he may have broadcast the footage via a camera attached to his helmet, one of the officials said.
Video showed the shooter stopping in front of the store with a rifle in the front seat, then pointing the rifle at people in the parking lot as he exited the vehicle and opened fire, the official said.
It also shows the suspect entering the supermarket and shooting several other victims inside, the official said. One of the victims was a recently retired police officer who worked as a security guard at the store, according to the official.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson called the shooting “absolutely devastating.”
“Our hearts are with the community and all those affected by this terrible tragedy. Hate and racism have no place in America. We are broken, extremely angry and praying for the families and loved ones of the victims. “, he added in a press release. .
Also on Saturday, the Rev. Al Sharpton called on the White House to convene a meeting with Blacks, Jews and Asians “to emphasize that the federal government is (scaling up) its efforts against hate crimes.” In a tweet, Sharpton said “leaders of all these communities should unite on this!”
Witnesses reported that the shooter was wearing military-style clothing in addition to a body armor and helmet, one of the law enforcement officials told AP.
Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the shooter exited. They described him as a white male in his late teens or early twenties wearing full camouflage, a black helmet, and what appeared to be a rifle.
“He was standing there with the gun to his chin. We were like what was going on? Why does this kid have a gun to his face?” Kephart said. He fell 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 receives regular updates on the shooting and its aftermath.
“The President was briefed by his Homeland Security Advisor on the horrific shooting in Buffalo, NY, this afternoon. He will continue to receive updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as new information will develop,” she said, adding that the president and first lady were praying for the victims and their loved ones.
Tops Friendly Markets issued 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 sealed off the block, lined with onlookers, and yellow police surrounded the entire parking lot. Mayor Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were at the scene late Saturday afternoon, gathered in a parking lot across from the Tops store and were scheduled to address the media.
More than two hours after 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 there with her fiancé, they broke up and went down different aisles,” she said. “A bullet just missed him. He was able to hide in a freezer but he couldn’t reach my aunt and doesn’t know where she is. We just want to know if she’s okay.”
Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was “closely monitoring the grocery store shooting in Buffalo,” her hometown. She said state officials have offered assistance to local authorities. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office said on social media that it has ordered all available personnel to assist Buffalo police.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has been 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 grocery store in Boulder, Colorado that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information on why they believe the man accused of the attack targeted the supermarket.
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.
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