A gunman in military-style clothing opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities called a “racially motivated hate crime and violent extremism,” killing 10 people and wounding three others. before being arrested on 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 in New York state, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials were not allowed to speak publicly about the matter and did so on condition of anonymity.
The FBI was questioning the suspect Saturday night, one of the officials said, and he was expected to appear in court later Saturday.
Authorities said 11 of the victims were black and two were white. The shooting occurred in a predominantly black neighborhood a few miles (kilometers) north of downtown Buffalo.
“This is the worst nightmare any community can face, and we are hurting and we are angry right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference. “The depth of pain that families are feeling and that all of us are feeling right now cannot even be explained.”
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia added: “This was pure evil. It was a clearly racially motivated hate crime by someone outside of our community, outside of the Good City neighbors… who He came into our community and tried to inflict that evil on us.”
Police officials said the gunman opened fire with a rifle at a Tops Friendly Market. Investigators believe he may have been broadcasting the shooting through a camera attached to his helmet, one of the officials said.
The video shows 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 official said.
It also shows the suspect entering the supermarket and shooting other victims inside, the official said. One of the victims was a recently retired police officer who worked as a security guard at the store, according to the official.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson called the shooting “absolutely devastating.”
“Our hearts go out to the community and everyone who has been affected by this terrible tragedy. Hate and racism have no place in America. We are heartbroken, extremely angry, and pray for the families and loved ones of the victims,” he added in a statement. .
Also on Saturday, the Rev. Al Sharpton urged the White House to convene a meeting with blacks, Jews and Asians “to underscore that the federal government (is) stepping up its efforts against hate crimes.” In a tweet, Sharpton said “leaders from all of these communities should come together on this!”
Witnesses reported that the gunman was wearing military-style clothing in addition to the bulletproof vest and a helmet, one of the law enforcement officers told the AP.
Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, entered the parking lot just as the shooter was leaving. They described him as a white male in his late teens or early twenties wearing full camouflage, a black helmet and what appeared to be a rifle.
“He was standing there with the gun to his chin. We thought, what the hell is going on? Why does this guy have a gun to his face?” Kephart said. He fell to his knees. “He took off his helmet, dropped his gun and was accosted by police.”
At the White House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden receives regular updates on the shooting and its aftermath.
“The President has been briefed by his National Security Advisor on the horrific shooting in Buffalo, New York, this afternoon. He will continue to receive updates overnight and tomorrow as more information develops,” he said, adding that the President and the first lady were praying for the victims and their loved ones.
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 closed off the block, lined with onlookers, and yellow police tape encircled the entire parking lot. Mayor Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were at the scene Saturday afternoon, meeting in a parking lot across the street from the Tops store and expected to address the media.
More than two hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews was waiting outside the store behind police tape.
“We would like to know the status of my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was in there with her boyfriend, they broke up and went to different hallways,” she said. “A bullet barely hit him. He was able to hide in a freezer, but he couldn’t get to my aunt and he doesn’t know where she is. We’d like to know if she’s okay anyway.”
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 help to local authorities. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office said on social media that it has ordered all available personnel to assist Buffalo police.
Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said.
The shooting comes just over a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information on why they believe the man accused of that attack targeted the supermarket.