A white 18-year-old opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in New York state, killing 10 people and wounding three others Saturday in what authorities described as “racially motivated violent extremism”. Most of the victims were black.
The teenager was wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera in the attack in Buffalo. Police said he shot 11 black and two white victims before surrendering to authorities in a rampage he broadcast live on the streaming platform Twitch.
Later, he appeared before a judge in a paper medical gown and was arraigned on a murder charge. The suspected gunman in Saturday's attack on Tops Friendly Market was identified as Payton Gendron, of Conklin, New York, about 320 kilometres southeast of Buffalo.
The massacre sent shockwaves through an unsettled nation gripped with racial tensions, gun violence and a spate of hate crimes.
President Joe Biden in a statement said he and the first lady were praying for the victims and their families.
“We still need to learn more about the motivation for today’s shooting as law enforcement does its work, but we don’t need anything else to state a clear moral truth: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation,” Biden said.
“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America.”
The gunman shot four people outside the store, three fatally, said Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. Inside the store, security guard Aaron Salter, a retired Buffalo police officer, fired multiple shots. A bullet hit the gunman’s bulletproof armor but had no effect, Gramaglia said.
The gunman then killed the guard, the commissioner said, then stalked through the store shooting other victims.
Police entered the store and confronted the gunman in the vestibule. He put his rifle to his own neck, but two officers talked him into dropping the gun, Gramaglia said.
“This is the worst nightmare that any community can face, and we are hurting and we are seething right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at the news conference. “The depth of pain that families are feeling and that all of us are feeling right now cannot even be explained.”
Twitch said in a statement that it ended Gendron's transmission “less than two minutes after the violence started.”
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that investigators were looking into whether he had posted a manifesto online.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia pointedly called the shooting a hate crime. “This was pure evil. It was (a) straight up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community," he told a news briefing.
Among the dead was Ruth Whitfield, the 86-year-old mother of a retired Buffalo fire commissioner.
Officials said the rifle Gendron used in the attack was purchased legally but that the magazines he used for ammunition were not allowed to be sold in New York.
In the day prior to the shooting, Dallas police said they were investigating a series of shootings in Koreatown as hate crimes. The Buffalo attack came just one month after another mass shooting on a Brooklyn subway train wounded 10 people.
The shooting came little more than a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Soopers grocery in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people.