BUFFALO, N.Y. — A man opened fire with a rifle Saturday at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., killing 10 people and wounding three more before he was arrested, police said, an incident authorities described as a “racially motivated hate crime and violent extremism.”
The man was identified as Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old white man from Conklin, a town about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo, New York, two police officials told The Associated Press who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to make statements.RELATED
The suspect was being questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, in English) on Saturday afternoon, one of the officials said.
Gendron, who had previously been defined as a white supremacist, has been held without bail on first-degree murder charges and will appear in court for the first time Tuesday morning. The crime could cost him life in prison, since in the state of New York there is no death penalty.
Gendron, who made a trip of several hours to reach Buffalo – his origin is unknown for the time being – apparently chose this neighborhood of the city because it is inhabited mostly by a black population, and in fact among his thirteen victims – the dead plus three wounded – eleven of them were black.
After the shooting, which also killed a supermarket security officer, he voluntarily surrendered to the police.
According to authorities, 11 of the victims were black and two were white. The shooting occurred at Tops Friendly Market, a grocery store in a mostly black neighborhood a few miles north of downtown Buffalo.
Meeting with law enforcement for the latest on the horrific white supremacist shooting in Buffalo.
Grateful for the swift actions of everyone involved in the response & holding close the memory of the security guard who was killed trying to stop the shooter. A true hero. pic.twitter.com/X7dC03PSuK
— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) May 15, 2022
The attacker was dressed in military clothing and wearing a bulletproof vest, according to the sources. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown revealed th at the assailant “traveled hours” to the supermarket, where 13 people were shot and 10 had lost their lives.
Investigators believe the assailant broadcast the attack over the internet using a camera mounted on his helmet, according to one of the sources. In the video, the armed subject is seen wearing military gear and a rifle in a front seat as he arrives at the store. He gets out of the vehicle pointing the rifle at people and opens fire, the official said.
The attacker is also seen walking into the supermarket and shooting other victims inside, it added. One of the victims was a recently retired officer who worked as a store security guard, according to the official.
One of the officials pointed out that the investigation is in its preliminary stages and that the authorities have not discerned a clear motive for the attacker, although they are investigating whether the attack was a racist act.
However, the attorney general said the FBI is investigating the Buffalo shooting as a racially motivated hate crime and violent extremism.
The supermarket is in a predominantly black neighborhood about three miles north of downtown Buffalo. The surrounding area is mostly residential, with a Family Dollar chain store and a fire station near the store.
Buffalo police confirmed in a tweet that the attacker was in custody, but did not identify him. Police officials had not immediately responded to messages from The Associated Press for comment.
According to witnesses, the gunman was wearing military-style clothing and a bulletproof vest, one of the officials said.
At the White House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that President Joe Biden receives updates on the attack and its aftermath.
“The President was briefed by his National Security Advisor on the horrific shooting attack in Buffalo, New York, this afternoon. He will continue to receive updates overnight and tomorrow as new information emerges,” he added.
Police closed off the block, which was surrounded by onlookers, and police cordoned off the entire parking lot with yellow tape. Buffalo Mayor and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were at the scene Saturday afternoon.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was “closely monitoring the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo,” her hometown. She pointed out that the state authorities have offered her help to the municipal ones.
The Erie County Police Department said on social media that it has ordered all available personnel to assist Buffalo police.
The shooting comes just over a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, that claimed the lives of 10 people. Detectives have not released information on why they believe the man accused of that attack chose the supermarket.