An 18-year-old attacker has been held without bail on first-degree murder charges following a mass shooting at a supermarket in New York state, which authorities have called a “hate crime” and “Racially Motivated Violent Extremism”.
The heavily armed gunman wearing a bulletproof vest and tactical helmet opened fire first in a parking lot and then inside a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, killing ten shoppers and employees and injuring one three more – while streaming the attack live online.
When police arrived at the scene and confronted the shooter, he allegedly put the gun to his neck, but was eventually persuaded to drop it and turn himself in.
Authorities said 11 of the victims were black, with Erie County Sheriff John Garcia describing the attack as “pure evil” and one “A racially motivated hate crime committed by someone outside of our community.”
The suspect was identified as Payton Gendron, 18, from another New York state community, Conklin, about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo, when he appeared in court later Saturday . He was charged with first degree murder and could face life in prison without parole under New York State law. The next court hearing was scheduled for next week after he pleaded not guilty.
Several federal agencies, including the FBI and ATF, are assisting local authorities in their investigation, with the attack being probed as “both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism”, according to Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Buffalo.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul called the attacker a “a white supremacist who just perpetrated a hate crime against an innocent community”, to express “I sincerely hope that this individual… will spend the rest of his life behind bars.”
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