A teenage gunman wearing military gear and live-streaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a Buffalo supermarket in New York, killing 10 people and wounding three others.
The 18-year-old white-skinned gunman was wearing body armor and military-style clothing when he opened fire on people at the Topps Friendly Market, police officials said. .
“He got out of his vehicle. He was heavily armed. He had tactical gear. He had a tactical helmet. He had a camera live streaming what he was doing,” City Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia later said at a news conference.
The gunman first shot four people outside the store, killing three, Gramaglia said. Inside the store, a security guard, a retired Buffalo police officer, fired multiple shots at the gunman, striking him, but the bullet struck the gunman’s bulletproof vest and had no effect, Gramaglia added. The commissioner said that the shooter killed the security guard.
Video also captured the suspect walking to the supermarket after shooting several other victims.
Police said 11 of the victims were black and two were white. The supermarket is located a few kilometers north of downtown Buffalo in a predominantly black area.
“This is the worst nightmare any community can face and we’re hurting and we’re reeling right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference. “The depth of pain that the families are going through and what we are all going through right now cannot even be explained.”
Buffalo police entered the store and confronted the gunman in the vestibule, Gramaglia said.
“At that point the suspect put the gun to his own neck. Buffalo police officers — two patrol officers — talked the suspect into dropping the gun. He dropped the gun, took off his tactical gear and surrendered at that point. He was taken outside and put in a police car,” he said.
The suspected gunman was later identified as Peyton Gendron of Conklin, a New York state community about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Buffalo, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and did so on condition of anonymity.
Dressed in a hospital gown, Gendron was arraigned Saturday evening on a charge of first-degree murder and ordered held without bail. Another court will hear the case next week.
At an earlier news conference, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia called the shooting a hate crime.
“This was pure evil. This was a racially motivated hate crime from someone outside of our community, outside of a city of good neighbors….coming into our community and trying to inflict that evil on us,” Garcia said.
Elsewhere, NAACP President Derrick Johnson issued a statement in which he called the shooting “absolutely devastating.”
“Our hearts go out to the community and all those affected by this terrible tragedy. Hate and racism have no place in America. We are devastated, extremely outraged, and praying for the families and loved ones of the victims,” he added.
Separately, Rev. Al Sharpton asked the White House to convene a meeting with Black, Jewish, and Asian Americans to underscore that “the federal government (is) stepping up efforts against hate crimes.” In a tweet, Sharpton said, “The leaders of these communities must all stick together on this!”
The shooting comes a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Supers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado that left 10 dead. Investigators have not released any information about why they believe the man accused in that attack targeted the supermarket.
At the scene in Buffalo on Saturday afternoon, police closed off an entire block of spectators, and the entire parking lot was cordoned off with yellow police tape.
Witnesses Bradyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both in their 20s, pulled into the parking lot as the shooter pulled out. They described him as a white male in his late teens or early twenties wearing full camo, a black helmet and sporting what appeared to be a rifle.
“He’s standing there with a gun to his chin. We were like, what’s going on? Why is there a gun in this kid’s face?” Kephart said. He fell to his knees. “He took off his helmet, dropped the gun and was tackled by police.”
Topps Friendly Markets released a statement saying, “We are shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden has been receiving regular updates on the shooting and the investigation and has offered prayers with the first lady for the victims and their loved ones.
“The President has been briefed by his Homeland Security Advisor on the horrific shooting this afternoon in Buffalo, NY. He will continue to receive updates this evening and tomorrow as more information develops,” she said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said.
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