BUFFALO, N.Y. (NewsNation) — At least 10 people died Saturday afternoon after what officials said was a “racially motivated” shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. The alleged shooter is in custody, police said.
In total, 13 were shot, with three injured during the attack at Tops Friendly Market. The incident is now being investigated as a hate crime.
An official who spoke with the Associated Press said the gunman entered the supermarket with a rifle and opened fire. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the alleged shooter, an 18-year-old white man, lives hours away from the city. Officials did not say the suspect’s name or the exact city that he’s from.
The suspect was identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, by the Associated Press, who spoke to two anonymous law enforcement officials.
Gendron was arraigned in court Saturday and charged with 1st degree murder.
When the alleged shooter entered the supermarket, he was heavily armed and had tactical gear on, Gramaglia said, adding that Gendron was livestreaming his actions. A Tops security guard shot the gunman, but as he was wearing body armor, it did not stop him. The suspect then shot and killed the security guard, a retired Buffalo police officer.
“This was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said. “This was pure evil, a straight-up racially motivated hate crime.”
The supermarket is in a predominately Black neighborhood about 3 miles north of downtown Buffalo. Out of the 13 people shot, 11 were Black. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said there was evidence that indicates the suspect was acting out of racial animosity but Flynn did not specify what that evidence entailed.
Bishop Perry Davis, the founder of the Stop Violence Foundation in Buffalo, said on NewsNation “Prime” said this shooting was a “shock” to the community.
“We’ve been praying for a safe summer and hoping we wouldn’t have any incidents like this,” Davis said. “But this is quite a shock to our community, to the whole city and to Western New York.”
Davis said the fact police believe the crime was racially motivated won’t change the way the deaths impact families. He is asking the community to stay calm so the situation does not escalate.
“To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re Black or white, if you’re killing people, that’s a loss,” Davis said. “People are losing people and it’s going to hurt just the same. It don’t matter what color the person is that did it, it’s still going to hurt.”
Buffalo is a “resilient” city he said. An incident like this will bring the community closer together, he believes.
Among the dead was Ruth Whitfield, the 86-year-old mother of a retired Buffalo fire commissioner.
“My mother was a mother to the motherless. She was a blessing to all of us,” former Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield told the Buffalo News.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, tweeted that she is “closely monitoring the shooting.”
“It strikes us in our very hearts to know that such evil lurks out there,” Hochul said in a news conference. “Yes I am here to console the families in a community that is feeling so much pain right now. But mark my words, we will be aggressive in our pursuit of anyone who subscribes to the ideals professed by other white supremacists.”
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office said it ordered all available resources and personnel to assist the Buffalo Police Department, NewsNation local affiliate WIVB reported.
Two people who spoke to the AP, Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, said they pulled into the parking lot just as the shooter was leaving.
“He was standing there with the gun to his chin. We were like, what the heck is going on? Why does this kid have a gun to his face?” Kephart said. He dropped to his knees. “He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun, and was tackled by the police.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This story is developing. Refresh for updates.