BUFFALO, NY (AP) — An armed young man wearing military gear and broadcasting live using a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket in what authorities described as “violent extremism for political reasons.” riots”, killing 10 people and injuring three. others on Saturday before he surrendered, authorities said.
Police officials said the 18-year-old gunman, who is white, was wearing a bulletproof vest and military-style clothing when he pulled over and opened fire on people at a Tops Friendly Market, the shooting broadcast via a camera placed in the man’s helmet. .
“He got out of his vehicle. He was very heavily armed. He had tactical gear. He was wearing a tactical helmet. He had a camera that was livestreaming what he was doing,” the city’s police commissioner, Joseph Gramaglia, said at a later news conference.
Gramaglia said the gunman initially shot four people outside the store, three of them fatally. Inside the store, a security guard who was a retired Buffalo police officer shot the gunman several times, striking him, but the bullet hit the gunman’s bulletproof vest and had no effect, Gramaglia added. The commissioner said the gunman then killed the security guard.
Video also captured the suspect as he entered the supermarket where he shot several other victims inside, according to authorities.
Police said 11 of the victims were black and two were white. The supermarket is 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 hurt and angry 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.”
Gramaglia said Buffalo police entered the store and confronted the gunman in the lobby.
“At that point, the suspect put the gun to his neck. Buffalo Police personnel, two patrol officers, convinced the suspect to drop the gun. He dropped the weapon, stripped off some of his tactical gear, and surrendered on the spot. And they took him outside, they put him in a police car,” he said.
The suspected gunman was later identified as Payton 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 allowed to speak publicly about the matter and did so on condition of anonymity.
Wearing a hospital gown, Gendron was arraigned in court Saturday night on first-degree murder charges and was ordered held without bail. Another court hearing is scheduled for next week.
At the press conference earlier, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia pointedly called the shooting a hate crime.
“This was pure evil. It was straight up a racially motivated hate crime of someone outside of our community, outside of the City of Good neighbors… coming into our community and trying to inflict that evil on us,” Garcia said.
Elsewhere, NAACP President Derrick Johnson released a statement calling 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 praying for the families and loved ones of the victims,” he added.
Separately, the Rev. Al Sharpton called on 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 that “leaders from all these communities should come together on this!”
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.
At the scene in Buffalo on Saturday afternoon, police locked down an entire block filled with onlookers, and yellow police tape encircled the entire parking lot.
Witnesses Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both in their 20s, 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 were like what the hell is going on? Why does this kid have a gun to his face? Kephart said. He fell to his knees. He “removed his helmet, dropped his weapon and was accosted by police.”
Tops Friendly Markets released a statement that said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
At the White House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden was receiving regular updates on the shooting and the investigation and had offered prayers with the first lady for the victims and their loved ones.
“The President has been briefed by his National Security Advisor about the horrific shooting in Buffalo, New York, this afternoon. He will continue to receive updates overnight and tomorrow as more information develops,” he said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said.
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 there with her fiancé, 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 just like to know if she’s okay anyway.”
Associated Press reporters John Wawrow in Buffalo and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report. Balsamo reported from Washington and Collins reported from Hartford, Connecticut.