BUFFALO, NY – Officials say ten people were killed and three more were injured Saturday afternoon in a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo.
The suspect, identified as 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron, of Conklin, was taken into custody and arraigned. He pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree murder.
“It carries with it a sentence of life without parole,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said. “We are now investigating terrorism charges, other murder charges, along with working with our partners in the federal government so that they can perhaps file charges as well.”
Gendron was remanded without bail. A felony hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning.
Police say Gendron, who is white, traveled “hours” to carry out the attack at the Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue. The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime and radically motivated violent extremism.
The supermarket is in a predominately Black neighborhood, about 3 miles north of downtown Buffalo. The surrounding area is primarily residential, with a Family Dollar store and fire station near the store.
“This was pure evil. It was straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community, outside of the city of good neighbors … coming into our community and trying to inflict that evil upon us,” said Erie County Sheriff John Garcia.
Police officials say around 2:30 pm, Gendron got out of a vehicle in the parking lot of the supermarket. Police say he was heavily armed and wearing tactical gear, including a helmet with a camera that he used to live-stream the shooting. A law enforcement source says Gendron was wearing body armor.
Gendron allegedly shot four people in the parking lot. Three of those victims died at the scene. One was injured but survived.
Police say the suspect then went inside and began shooting customers.
“You can see inside the store and I saw him [shooting]. And I like, I do not get a phone on me, so I like, ‘Somebody’ – I’m screaming – ‘Somebody call the police,’ “one witness said.
According to police, a retired Buffalo police officer who was employed as a security guard exchanged fire with and struck Gendron but, because of the suspect’s tactical gear, was unable to stop him. Gendron then allegedly shot and killed the security guard.
Police say the suspect made his way through the rest of the store, eventually returning to the front of the supermarket.
Buffalo Police then engaged the suspect in the vestibule of the store. Gendron allegedly put a gun to his own neck, but officers talked him into dropping the gun.
Police say Gendron then took off some of the tactical gear and surrendered.
A total of 13 people were shot. Ten victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia says the other three victims suffered injuries that do not appear to be life-threatening.
The three injured victims were taken to Erie County Medical Center in stable condition. As of 7:30 pm, one victim had been discharged.
Four of the shooting victims were store employees, including the security guard. The rest of the victims were customers.
Eleven of the victims are African American and two are white.
Tops Friendly Markets released a statement saying, “We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
Twitch, the platform the alleged shooter used to live-stream the attack, released the following statement:
“We are devastated to hear about the shooting that took place this afternoon in Buffalo, New York. Our hearts go out to the community impacted by this tragedy. Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against violence of any kind and works swiftly to respond to all incidents. The user has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content. “
“This is the worst nightmare that any community can face,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. “The depth of pain that families are feeling and that all of us are feeling right now cannot even be explained.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul traveled to Buffalo on Saturday to assist with the response.
“I know the individuals who live here, the wonderful tight-knit neighborhood, and to see that sense of security shattered by an individual, a white supremacist who has engaged in an act of terrorism and will be prosecuted as such, in a cold- hearted, calculated way, “Hochul said. “It strikes us in our very hearts to know there is such evil that lurks out there.”
At the White House, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden is receiving regular updates on the shooting and its aftermath.
“The president has been briefed by his Homeland Security advisor on the horrific shooting in Buffalo, NY, this afternoon. He will continue to receive updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as further information develops,” she said, adding the president and first lady were praying for the victims and their loved ones.
Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said.
The NYPD says while there is no threat to New York City, out of caution, there is increased patrol at various locations.
The shooting came a little more than a year after a March 2021 attack on a King Soopers grocery in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information about why they believe the man charged in that attack targeted the supermarket.