10 killed in mass shooting at supermarket Buffalo, New York; Determined as a hate crime

10 killed in mass shooting at supermarket Buffalo, New York;  Determined as a hate crime

BUFFALO, New York – A gunman in military gear opened fire with a rifle at a convenience store in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities described as “hate crimes and racially motivated violent extremism,” killing 10 people and wounding three others before being taken into custody Saturday afternoon, law enforcement officials said.

The shooter was identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, a community about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Buffalo, New York, two police officers told The Associated Press. Officials were not allowed to comment publicly on the matter and did so on condition of anonymity.

The suspect was questioned by the FBI on Saturday night, one of the officers said, and was scheduled to appear in court later Saturday.

Officials said 11 of the victims were black and two were white. The shooting occurred in a predominantly black neighborhood a few miles north of downtown Buffalo.

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“This is the worst nightmare any community can face and we are suffering and seething right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference. “The depth of pain that families are feeling and that we are all feeling right now cannot even be explained.”

Erie County Sheriff John Garcia added: “That was pure evil. It was a racially motivated hate crime by someone outside of our community, outside of the town of good neighbors…who came into our community and tried to do this evil to us.”

Police officials said the gunman opened fire with a rifle at a Tops Friendly Market. Investigators believe he may have streamed the shooting through a camera attached to his helmet, one of the officers said.

Video showed the gunman stopping in front of the store with a rifle in the front seat and then pointing the rifle at people in the parking lot as he got out of the vehicle and opened fire, the officer said.

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It also shows the suspect going into the supermarket and shooting several other victims inside, the officer said. One of the victims, according to the officer, was a recently retired police officer who worked as a security guard at the store.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson called the shooting “absolutely devastating.”

“Our hearts go out to the community and everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. Hatred and racism have no place in America. We are devastated, extremely upset and praying for the families and loved ones of the victims,” ​​he added in a statement.

Also on Saturday, Rev. Al Sharpton called on the White House to call a meeting with Blacks, Jews and Asians “to underscore that the federal government is escalating its efforts on hate crime.” In a tweet, Sharpton said that “the leaders of all these communities should stand together!”

Witnesses reported that the gunman was wearing military clothing in addition to body armor and a helmet, one of the police officers told the AP.

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Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the gunman emerged. They described him as a white male in his late teens or early 20s with full camouflage, a black helmet and what appeared to be a gun.

“He stood there with the gun to his chin. We were like, what the hell is going on? Why does that boy have a gun in his face?” Kephart said. He fell to his knees. “He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun and was attacked by police.”

At the White House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden was being briefed regularly on the shooting and its aftermath.

“The President was briefed by his Homeland Security Advisor this afternoon on the horrific shooting in Buffalo, New York. He will have updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as more information develops,” she said, adding that the President and First Lady are praying for the victims and their families.

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Tops Friendly Markets released a statement saying, “We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

Police cordoned off the block lined with spectators, and yellow police tape surrounded the entire parking lot. Mayor Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were at the scene late Saturday afternoon, gathered in a parking lot across from the Tops store, expecting to address the media.

More than two hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews waited behind police tape outside the store.

“We would like to know the status of my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was there with her fiancé, they broke up and went into different aisles,” she said. “A bullet just missed him. He was able to hide in a freezer but he couldn’t reach my aunt and doesn’t know where she is. We’d just like a message if she’s okay.”

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Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was “closely monitoring the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo,” her hometown. She said state officials have offered assistance to local authorities. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office said on social media that it has ordered all available employees to assist the Buffalo Police Department.

Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said.

The shooting came just over a year after a March 2021 attack on a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information as to why they believe the man charged in the attack targeted the supermarket.

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Associated Press reporters John Wawrow in Buffalo and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report. Balsamo reported from Washington and Collins from Hartford, Connecticut.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

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