An 18-year-old white gunman shot 10 people to death and wounded three on Saturday at a grocery store in a Black neighborhood of upstate New York, before surrendering after what authorities called an act of “racially motivated violent extremism.”
Authorities said the suspect, who was armed with an assault-style rifle and appeared to have acted alone, drove to Buffalo from his home several hours away to launch the afternoon attack that he broadcast in real time on social media platform Twitch.
Eleven of the 13 people struck by gunfire were Black, officials said. The two others were white. The racial breakdown of the dead was not made clear.
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Gunman kills 10 in live-streamed racial attack at supermarket in Buffalo
He was arraigned hours after the shooting in state court on first-degree murder charges, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole, said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. New York has no capital punishment.
Flynn said the judge also ordered Gendron to remain in custody without bail and to undergo a “forensic examination.” Gendron was scheduled to return to court on May 19.
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Authorities said the teenager, reported by local media to have been a student at the State University of New York’s Broome Community College near Binghamton, had come close to taking his own life before he was arrested.
When confronted by officers at the store, the suspect held a gun to his own neck, but they talked him into dropping the weapon and surrendering, Buffalo police commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news briefing.
Gramaglia said the gunman shot and killed three people in the parking lot of the Tops Friendly Markets outlet before exchanging fire with a retired police officer working as a security guard for the store, but the suspect was protected by his body armor.
The guard was one of the 10 people shot to death, the nine others all being customers. Three other employees of the store, part of a regional chain, were wounded but are expected to survive, authorities said.
Shonnell Harris, a manager at Tops, told the Buffalo News she thought she heard as many as 70 gunshots and that she fell several times as she ran through the store to a rear exit.
“He looked like he was in the army,” she told the newspaper, describing the camouflage-clad assailant.
Retired firefighter Katherine Crofton, who lives nearby, said she witnessed the start of the bloodshed from her porch.
“I saw him shoot this woman,” Crofton told the paper. “She was just going into the store. And then he shot another woman. She was putting groceries into her car. I got down because I did not know if he was going to shoot me.”
Stephen Belongia, the FBI special agent in charge of the bureau’s Buffalo field office, said the attack would be investigated both as a hate crime and as an act of “racially motivated violent extremism” under federal law.
“This person was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said at a news conference, his voice quaking with emotion. “It was a straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community.”
U.S. President Biden decried the shooting as “abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation” in a statement issued late Saturday. “Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”
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