The shooting took place on Saturday afternoon at a Tops Friendly Markets store. The shooting suspect, a white male, is in custody, police said. He was identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron and pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge against him in court on Saturday night, Buffalo City Court Chief Judge Craig told CNN. Hannah.
Thirteen were shot in the attack and 10 died. Of those shot, 11 were black and two were white, officials said. Two people remain hospitalized in stable condition, an Erie County Medical Center spokesperson told CNN.
The US Department of Justice is investigating the mass shooting “as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism,” according to a statement from US Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“The Department of Justice is committed to a thorough and prompt investigation of this shooting and to seeking justice for these innocent victims,” the statement said.
The FBI is participating in the investigation, Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Buffalo, said at the press conference.
The suspect traveled to Buffalo’s Tops Market heavily armed, wearing tactical gear and had a camera where he was live-streaming what he was doing, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said.
Investigators are reviewing an alleged manifesto posted online in connection with the mass shooting, two federal law enforcement officials told CNN.
“It’s the worst nightmare”
CNN obtained part of the live stream taken from the shooter’s point of view as he drives into the supermarket parking lot. The shooter, who is seen in the rear view mirror wearing a helmet, is heard saying, “I just gotta go” before pulling up to the front of the store.
In the video, store customers can be seen walking through the parking lot as the suspect arrives.
The suspect then shot four people in the store’s parking lot, Gramaglia said. Three of those people died and one survived, Gramaglia said.
He then entered the market and began shooting shoppers at the store, Gramaglia said.
A supermarket security guard, a retired Buffalo police officer, “fired multiple shots at the suspect,” but the suspect’s tactical gear shielded him from the officer’s fire, said said Gramaglia.
The suspect shot and killed the security guard and continued through the supermarket, heading for the front of the store, where he encountered Buffalo police officers.
The suspect put his gun to his own neck, at which point two Buffalo officers convinced him to drop his gun, then removed some of his tactical gear and surrendered to police, officials said. Police arrested the suspect and transported him to Buffalo Police Headquarters.
“This is the worst nightmare any community can face, and we are hurting and bubbling right now as a community,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. “The depth of pain the families are feeling and that we are all feeling right now cannot even be explained.”
Tops Friendly Markets issued a statement after the shooting, saying it was “shocked and deeply saddened”.
“We appreciate the prompt response from local law enforcement and are providing all available resources to assist authorities with the ongoing investigation,” the statement said.
Twitch, the best-known live-streaming platform for gaming, confirmed on Saturday that the suspect used its platform to live-stream during the attack. The suspect has been “indefinitely suspended” from the platform. A Twitch spokesperson said the company removed the live stream less than two minutes after the violence began.
Buffalo joins growing list of hate-motivated shootings
The Tops supermarket targeted in Saturday’s attack is located near the Masten Park and Kingsley neighborhoods in the heart of Buffalo’s black community.
The supermarket is about two blocks from the public library named after Frank Elliott Merriweather Jr., the former publisher of the Buffalo Criterion, a black newspaper. And it’s about half a mile from the Buffalo Black Achievers Museum.
“You now have a white…abuser in a (predominantly) black community. Why did he choose this deal?” CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem said.
“There are two aspects of murder in the first-degree charge that could potentially be charged here,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said at a Saturday afternoon news conference.
One factor, he explained, is when multiple people are shot or killed. The other is when there is a racial component to the case.
The district attorney said his office was looking to make sure they had the best charge against the suspect but, “from a state perspective, it’s life without parole and that’s as high that we can go”.
Experts see easy access to guns as a root cause of violence, and open states lower the barrier for people to own and carry guns in public. But the spike in violence since the summer of 2020 has been broad-based, in cities and states with lax and tough gun laws, with progressive and conservative prosecutors, and Republican and Democratic mayors and governors.
Among other recent attacks, authorities say they were motivated by hate:
The rampage was the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern US history.
Patrick Crusius was charged with killing and injuring the victims “on the basis of any person’s real and perceived national origin”, the indictment states. He pleaded not guilty and has not yet been tried.
— In October 2018, 11 worshipers were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
Federal prosecutors have filed hate crimes charges against Robert Bowers, saying he used anti-Semitic slurs and criticized a Jewish group on a social media site in the days leading up to the shooting.
Bowers in 2019 pleaded not guilty. He has not yet been judged.
Federal prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty for charges including obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, using and discharging a firearm to commit murder and possessing of a firearm in a violent crime.
— In June 2016, an American-born man who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State shot dead 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
The shooter, Omar Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida, carried an assault rifle and pistol into the crowded Pulse Club around 2 a.m. on June 12, 2016 and began shooting, killing 49 people, officials said.
Mateen, who died in a shootout with police on the day of the massacre, was questioned by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 but was not deemed a threat, the FBI said.
— In June 2015, white supremacist Dylann Roof shot and killed nine African-American worshipers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Roof was convicted of federal charges and sentenced to death in January 2017. He was the first federal hate crime defendant to be sentenced to death, a Justice Department spokesperson said.
— In August 2012, another place of worship was the scene of a mass shooting. A gunman opened fire at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, during prayer services, killing six people and injuring four. Wade Michael Page died of a self-inflicted injury, the FBI has announced.
Then-Attorney General Eric Holder called the attack “an act of terrorism, an act of hate, a hate crime.”
According to a man who describes himself as a former Army pal of Page, the attacker spoke of a “holy racial war” when they served together in the 1990s.
CNN’s Sabrina Shulman, Phil Gast, Brian Stelter, Christina Maxouris and Peter Nickeas contributed to this report.