Ten killed in ‘racially motivated’ shooting at US grocery store
A heavily armed 18-year-old white man shot and killed 10 people Saturday in a “racially motivated” attack at a Buffalo, New York grocery store, which he live-streamed on camera, officials said.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference that the gunman, wearing body armor and a helmet, was arrested after the massacre.
Gramaglia raised the death toll to 10 and three were wounded. Eleven of the victims were African Americans.
Gramaglia said the gunman shot four people in the parking lot of a Topps supermarket, killing three of them, then went inside and continued to shoot.
A retired police officer working as an armed security guard was also among those killed inside the store.
Gramaglia said the guards “engaged the suspect, fired several shots,” but the gunman shot him.
He said that when the police arrived, the shooter put the gun on his neck, but was talked about and surrendered.
Stephen Belongia, Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office, told a news conference that the shootings are being investigated as a hate crime.
“We are investigating this incident as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” Belongia said.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia described the attack as “pure evil.”
“It was a racially motivated hate crime from someone directly outside our community,” he said.
Asked what information led officials to call the attack a hate crime, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he had evidence indicating “racial enmity” but declined to elaborate.
US media outlets have reported that officers are investigating a detailed “manifesto” posted online before the shooting, in which the suspect outlines his plans and the racial motivations for the attack.
Citing the manifesto, the New York Times reported that the suspect was “inspired” by white supremacist acts of violence, including the massacre of 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019.
According to local daily The Buffalo News, citing a local official, a semi-automatic weapon used in Saturday’s shooting had a racial adjective as well as the number 14 – a reference to a white supremacist phrase.
District Attorney Flynn said at the press conference that the shooter used an “assault weapon”—a term that may apply to types of rifles and shotguns in New York—but did not specify what kind.
Flynn’s office said in a tweet Saturday night that the suspect — identified as Peyton Gendron of Conklin, New York — had been charged with first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence without parole. . He is being held without bail.
Asked during an earlier press conference whether the shooter could face the death penalty at the federal level, Trini Ross, US attorney for the Western District of New York, said: “All options are on the table as we deal with the investigation.” Let’s move on.”
‘Very painful day’
Mayor of Buffalo Byron Brown – which is located in western New York state along the US border with Canada – said the shooter “traveled for hours outside of this community to commit this crime.”
“This is a day of great pain for our community,” Brown said.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said US President Joe Biden was briefed about the “horrific shooting”.
In a statement, Biden thanked police and first responders and condemned the attack.
“Any act of domestic terrorism, including acts in the name of a hateful white nationalist ideology, is the opposite of what we stand for in America,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the senior US senator from New York, said in a tweet: “We stand with the people of Buffalo.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul described the killings as “horrific white supremacist shootings” in a tweet that praised the grocery store security guard as “a true hero.”
A spokesperson for streaming service Twitch confirmed to AFP that the shooter used the service to broadcast the attack.
“We have investigated and confirmed that we have removed the section less than two minutes after the violence started,” the spokesperson said.
wave of gun violence
The Buffalo shooting follows other recent examples of racially motivated mass murders in the United States.
In 2019, a white gunman traveled hours across the state of Texas and killed 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso, where the majority of the population is Hispanic.
Four years ago, in Charleston, South Carolina, a white man opened fire at an African American church, killing nine.
In both cases, the men posted hate-filled manifestos online before their shootings.
Despite mass casualties and a nationwide wave of gun violence, several initiatives to reform gun rules in the US Congress have failed, leaving states and local councils to implement their own restrictions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its latest figures that the United States suffered 19,350 firearm homicides in 2020, a nearly 35 percent increase compared to 2019.