Buffalo, NY (WBFO) – Thirteen people were shot dead by a gunman as they entered the Tops Super Market on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo on Saturday, killing one of them. Investigators say he traveled from elsewhere in New York State, inspired by racial hatred, and identified his target as a predominantly black area.
“This is the worst nightmare any community can face. And we are suffering. And we’re depressed as a community right now, “said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. “The depth of the pain that families are feeling and what we are all feeling now is indescribable.”
The alleged gunman was identified Saturday evening as 18-year-old Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, a community southeast of Binghamton near the Pennsylvania border. He pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and was released on bail. His next scheduled court appearance is Tuesday, May 17.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the suspect came to the supermarket in tactical attire and shot his first four victims before entering the store to continue the violence, fatally shooting three of them, and killing seven more. Among those he encountered inside was the store’s security guard, a retired Buffalo police officer, according to authorities.
At about 2:30 a.m. today, the mayor said a man was not in the area and a few hours away, he went to Buffalo. “Once at 1275 Jefferson Avenue, at Tops Market, he got out of his car. He was armed with a very heavy weapon. He had strategic gear. He was wearing a tactical helmet. He had a camera that was live streaming what he was doing. ”
Social media accounts suggest that the alleged shooter released an advertisement and a “to-do” list before the attack. His Twitch account, in which the attack was broadcast live, has been shut down. According to the alleged manifesto, which was acquired by WBFO but not linked here, targeted suspected blacks, inspired by the belief that he had responded to a campaign to “replace” the white nation. His so-called manifesto also expresses hatred for Jews and suggests that “Arabs”, Asians and other non-whites are not included in “white civilization”.
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“The FBI is working closely with our partners, Buffalo PD, and our other federal, state, and local partners. We are investigating this incident as a case of hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism, “said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Belangia. “Hate crimes fall under the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Department and incidents of racially motivated violent extremism fall within the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division within our Department of Homeland Security.
The FBI is providing all necessary resources, both local and national, to investigate the matter. We will not stop until every lead is investigated, every piece of evidence is analyzed and until we understand how and why this horrific tragedy and crime happened, our thoughts and our prayers are with the family and those who died today. ”
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said his office would use the race factor as a motive for the killings.
If convicted, first-degree homicide charges carry a life sentence without parole, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said during a briefing Saturday evening.
The suspect is not guilty and was detained without bail. The man is scheduled to appear in court next Thursday.
Stephen Belangia, an FBI special agent in charge of the Buffalo Field Office, said the agency was investigating the shootings as examples of hate crimes and racially motivated violent extremism. Federal authorities are also looking into allegations of possible terrorism.
How the attack happened
The shooting started at half past noon. East Time outside the supermarket, located in a predominantly black neighborhood, about 3 miles north of downtown Buffalo.
The gunman opened fire with an assault-style rifle, shooting four people in the parking lot, law enforcement officials said. Three of them died.
After the gunman entered the store, the security guard, a retired police officer, confronted the gunman. The suspect then shot and killed the security guard present.
The suspect later confronted the police in front of the store. He briefly held a gun to his neck, but police said they told him to drop his gun and surrender.
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A racist screed posted details of the attack plan online
Someone wrote the details of a screed attack plan using the same name as the shooter. Anonymous message board posted on 4chan, an author introducing himself as Payton Gendron said “extreme monotony” during the epidemic led to his radicalization on 4chan.
The 180-page document is full of racist rhetoric and seems to embrace the white supremacist conspiracy theory, claiming that an elite Jewish cable, corporate leaders, and politicians are deliberately discriminating against white people through permissive immigration and propaganda.
The same heinous conspiracy theory was supported by gunmen who massacred 51 people at a mosque in New Zealand in 2019. The author of the document called the New Zealand shooter his greatest source of inspiration.
The author of the document claims to be a student at Broome Community College, State University, New York. The college said in a statement to NPR that it was not currently enrolled in the school.
The attack was broadcast live online
According to a company spokesman, the shooter streamed the event live on the Twitch platform. Twitch said the stream was taken offline less than two minutes after the violence started and suspended the user from the service indefinitely.
Commenting after the shooting, Hochul said social media companies bear some responsibility when extremists use their platforms to escalate violence.
All social media platforms that benefit from their existence should be monitored and they should be held accountable for this surveillance, knowing that they may in some way be involved in such crimes, perhaps not legally but morally, the governor said.
Under federal law, there is a legal shield from being held accountable for what users post on online platforms. Yet there are some exceptions, such as when the content violates federal criminal law.
The streaming platform did not say how many viewers the Livestream received in a short period of time, but the company said it was monitoring the platform for the re-flow of any part of the graphic footage, which violates its rules against streaming violence.
Twitch spokeswoman Samantha Fout said: “We are devastated to hear of the shooting in Buffalo, New York this afternoon.
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The Biden administration responded
The White House says President Biden has been briefed on the shooting and will continue to receive updates.
Tonight, we extend our condolences to the families of the ten people whose lives were taken carelessly. And those who are suffering the physical and emotional wounds of this horrific shooting, Biden said in a statement late Saturday night.
The president said the investigation into the motive for the attack was still ongoing but called it a “racially motivated hate crime.” We stand against it. Hate must not be a safe haven. We must do everything in our power to end hate-induced domestic terrorism. ”
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the FBI and ATF are working closely with the Buffalo Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.
The judiciary is investigating it as a hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism, Garland said in a statement. The judiciary is committed to conducting a thorough and speedy investigation into this shooting and seeking justice for these innocent victims.”
Speaking of all the NPR issues, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the investigation is ongoing and many in Buffalo are mourning.
Collectively, our community is heartbreaking and groaning right now. I know some of the victims and the families involved. Many people in our community are affected in one way or another.