Ten people were killed and three others wounded — two of them critically — in a shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket Saturday afternoon. Law enforcement officials described it as a racially motivated hate crime.
The suspect has been identified as Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old white man from Conklin, N.Y. — roughly 200 miles southeast of Buffalo.
According to witnesses and law enforcement, the gunman was dressed in body armor, armed with a high-powered rifle, and livestreamed the massacre. Investigators have recovered a manifesto.
“It was straight up, a racially motivated hate crime,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said at a news conference.
The FBI is investigating this “both as a hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism,” said Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge in Buffalo.
He said the investigation was the No. 1 priority of the Department of Justice.
Of the 13 victims, 11 are Black and two are white, according to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.
The suspect is in custody and was arraigned Saturday evening, charged with murder in the first degree, the highest murder charge in New York state.
Gendron, wearing a white mask and white paper smock, pleaded not guilty through a deputy public defender in a Buffalo courtroom.
At a news conference, Erie County Dist. Atty. John Flynn said a felony hearing would take place in five days.
He said his office was also considering terrorism charges, as well as “other murder charges,” and was working with the federal government “so that they can perhaps file charges as well.”
“I assure everyone in this community, justice is being done right now and justice will be done,” Flynn said.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the suspect had traveled “hours” from outside the city.
“The shooter was not from this community. In fact, the shooter traveled hours from outside this community to perpetrate this crime on the people of Buffalo,” he said.
He said it was a day of “great pain” for the city.
According to police, the gunman arrived at the supermarket at about 2:30 p.m. and exited his vehicle. He shot four people in the parking lot. Three of them died.
He then went inside the store, where a security guard who was a former Buffalo police officer confronted him.
“Because he had heavily armored plating on, the bullet had no round. The suspect engaged our retired officer and he was shot and deceased at the scene,” Gramaglia said.
The gunman then continued shooting as he made his way through the store, then returned to the front, where police officers convinced him to drop his weapon.
He was arrested and taken to Buffalo Police Headquarters.
About 20 people saw the livestream, which lasted 30 seconds, on the broadcasting app Twitch, according to law enforcement. One of the viewers immediately alerted authorities. The Twitch page has since been taken down by the provider.
In one segment of the video, the shooter is heard saying to himself and his followers, “You just go to go for it,” as his car approached the Tops Friendly supermarket Saturday afternoon.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul described the mass killing as “a military-style execution targeting people who simply want to buy groceries in a neighborhood store.”
“It strikes us to our very hearts to know that there is such evil … out there,” she said at a news conference, adding that it was her “sincere hope” that the suspect would “spend the rest of the day his days behind bars.”
Grady Lewis, an eyewitness to the shooting, told Buffalo’s WKBW news that the scene was “horrible.” He saw people running and witnessed the suspect shooting at people.
He said the gunman was “fully prepared and ready to go.”