Ten people were killed Saturday in a racially motivated shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo by a suspect in tactical gear who live-streamed the attack, law enforcement officials said at a news conference.
The shooting happened at the Topps Friendly Markets store on Saturday afternoon. A white suspect in the shooting is in custody, police said. The man, identified as 18-year-old Peyton Gendron, pleaded not guilty in court Saturday night to a charge of first-degree murder, Buffalo City Court Chief Judge Craig Hanna told CNN.
13 people were shot and 10 died in the attack. Eleven of those shot were black and two were white. A spokeswoman for Erie County Medical Center told CNN that the two people are in stable condition.
Saturday’s massacre in Buffalo was the latest high-profile mass shooting that authorities said was motivated by hate, including attacks at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
The US Department of Justice is investigating the mass shooting as a “hate crime and racially motivated act of violent terrorism,” according to a statement from US Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“The Department of Justice is committed to conducting a thorough and prompt investigation into this shooting and to bringing justice to these innocent victims,” the statement said.
Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI Buffalo Field Office, said at a news conference that the FBI is assisting in the investigation.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the suspect, dressed in tactical gear and heavily armed, went to Topps Market in Buffalo and had a camera live-streaming what he was doing.
Two federal law enforcement officials told CNN that investigators are reviewing a manifesto posted online related to the mass shooting.
Live Updates: Mass shooting at Buffalo supermarket
CNN obtained a portion of the live stream taken from the shooter’s point of view as he drove into the supermarket’s parking lot. The shooter, seen in the helmeted rearview mirror, is heard saying, “Gotta go for it,” before pulling up to the front of the store.
In the video, store patrons can be seen walking through the parking lot as the suspect drives away.
The suspect then shot four people in the store’s parking lot, Gramaglia said. Of those, three died and one survived, Gramaglia said.
He then walked into the market and began shooting at customers in the store, Gramaglia said.
A supermarket security guard, a retired Buffalo police officer, “fired multiple shots at the suspect,” but the suspect’s tactical gear shielded him from the officer’s gunfire, Gramaglia said.
The suspect fatally shot the security guard and ran through the supermarket to the front of the store, where he was met by Buffalo police officers.
The suspect put the gun to his neck, at which point two Buffalo officers talked him into dropping the gun, then took off some of his tactical gear and surrendered to police, officials said. Police apprehended the suspect and transported him to Buffalo Police Headquarters.
“This is the worst nightmare any community can face, and we’re hurting, and we’re overwhelmed as a community right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. “The depth of pain that the families are going through and what we are all going through right now cannot even be explained.”
Topps Friendly Markets released a statement following the shooting, saying it was “shocked and deeply saddened.”
“We appreciate the quick response of local law enforcement and are providing all available resources to assist authorities in the ongoing investigation,” the statement said.
Twitch, a popular live streaming platform known for gaming, confirmed on Saturday that the suspect used its platform to stream live during the attack. The suspect has been suspended from the platform “indefinitely”. A spokesperson for Twitch said the company removed the live stream less than two minutes after the violence began.
The Tops supermarket targeted in Saturday’s attack is located near the Maston Park and Kingsley areas in the heart of Buffalo’s black community.
The supermarket is a public library named after Frank Elliot Meriwether Jr., former publisher of the black newspaper the Buffalo Criterion. It is half a mile from the Buffalo Black Achievers Museum.
“You now have a white man … aggressor in a (majority) black community. Why did he choose this market? CNN national security analyst Juliet Kayem said.
“There are potentially two counts of first-degree murder here,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said at a press conference Saturday afternoon.
A factor is when multiple people are shot or killed. Another is when there is a racial element to the case.
The district attorney said his office is looking to make sure they have the best possible charges against the suspect, but “from a state’s standpoint, it’s life without parole, and that’s about as high as we can go.”
Saturday’s shooting adds to the list of hate-fueled violence in America in recent years. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 197 for the year as of Saturday afternoon, marking another incident in a growing number of mass shootings in the United States. The Archive and CNN define a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people, including the shooter, are shot.
Experts consider easy access to guns to be a root cause of violence, and open-carry states lower the barrier for people to own and carry guns in public. But the spike in violence since the summer of 2020 has been common in cities and states with lax and strict gun laws, with progressive and conservative prosecutors, as well as Republican and Democratic mayors and governors.
In other recent attacks that authorities say were motivated by hate:
– In August 2019, a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas left 22 people dead and nearly two dozen injured.
It was the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern US history.
Patrick Crucius was accused of killing and injuring victims “because of the actual and perceived national origin of any person,” the indictment said. He has pleaded not guilty and has yet to stand trial.
– In October 2018, 11 worshipers were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
Federal prosecutors charged Robert Bowers with hate crimes after he used anti-Semitic slurs and criticized a Jewish group on a social media site shortly before the shooting.
Bowers pleaded not guilty in 2019. He is yet to be tried.
Federal prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty on charges including interfering with freedom of religion, using and discharging a firearm to commit murder and possession of a firearm during a violent crime.
– In June 2016, an American man who pledged allegiance to ISIS shot and killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Gunman Omar Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida, took an assault rifle and a pistol into the packed Pulse club around 2 a.m. on June 12, 2016, and opened fire, killing 49 people, officials said.
Mateen, who died in a shootout with police the day of the massacre, was interviewed by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 but the FBI said he was a threat.
– In June 2015, Dylann Roof, a white man, shot and killed nine African American worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Roof was convicted of federal charges and sentenced to death in January 2017. He is the first federal hate-crime defendant to be sentenced to death, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.
– Another place of worship became the scene of a mass shooting in August 2012. A gunman opened fire during prayer services at a gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six people and wounding four others. Wade Michael Page died of a self-inflicted wound, the FBI said.
Then-Attorney General Eric Holder called the attack “an act of terrorism, hate, and a hate crime.”
According to a man who identified himself as an old Army buddy of Page’s, the attacker talked about a “racial holy war” when they served together in the 1990s.