Act of ‘racially motivated violent extremism’: US gunman kills 10 in live-streamed supermarket attack


  • A
    gunman in the US was arraigned hours after shooting and killing 10 people at a
    grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
  • The
    18-year-old suspect drove from several hours away to a predominantly black
    neighbourhood and live-streamed the attack.
  • Authorities
    said the attack would be investigated as both a hate crime and as an act of
    “racially motivated violent extremism”.

BUFFALO
– An 18-year-old white gunman shot 10 people to death and wounded three others on
Saturday at a grocery store in a black neighbourhood of upstate New York,
before surrendering after what authorities called an act of “racially
motivated violent extremism”.

Police on scene at supermarket after mass shooting

Buffalo Police on the scene at a Tops Friendly Market on 14 May 2022 in Buffalo, New York after a mass shooting that claimed 10 victims.

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, a live video service owned by Amazon.

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.

Court
papers named the suspect as Payton Gendron of Conklin, a town of about 5 000
people in New York’s Southern Tier region near the Pennsylvania border.

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 Johan 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 19 May.

Surrendered to police

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.

Police on scene at supermarket after mass shooting

Buffalo Police on the scene at a Tops Friendly Market on 14 May 2022 in Buffalo, New York after a mass shooting that claimed 10 victims.

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 armour.

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.

Describing the
camouflage-clad assailant, she told the newspaper:

He looked like he was in the army.

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.”

‘Pure evil’

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.”

US
President Joe Biden decried the shooting as “abhorrent to the very fabric
of this nation” in a statement issued late on Saturday.

Biden said: 

Hate must have no safe harbour. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fuelled domestic terrorism.

New
York Governor Kathy Hochul told a late-evening news conference she was dismayed
that the killer managed to live-stream his attack on social media, which she
blamed for hosting a “feeding frenzy” of violent extremist ideology.

“The
fact that that can even be posted on a platform is absolutely shocking,”
Hochul said. “These outlets must be more vigilant in monitoring social
media content.”

Twitch
said in a statement that it removed the live stream less than two minutes after
it started and was working to ensure no other accounts re-posted the content.
Hochul said it should have been taken down “within a second”.

Screenshots
of the broadcast were posted on social media, including some that appeared to
show the shooter holding a gun and standing over a body in the grocery store.

A
document circulating online that appeared to have been written by the killer
sketched out a to-do list for the attack, including cleaning the gun and
testing the livestream.

In
addition, a 180-page manifesto outlining ‘The Great Replacement Theory’ – the
idea that white people are being replaced by minorities in the United States
and other countries – also circulated online, reportedly authored by Gendron.

A
spokesperson for Flynn’s office declined to comment on the documents. The FBI
could not immediately be reached for comment.

The
governor also said she would introduce a previously planned
“comprehensive” gun control package on Tuesday to “address
further loopholes that exist in our (state) laws”.

Hochul
said the firearm used in the killings was legally purchased, but had been
illegally modified with a high-capacity magazine, which she said could easily
have been purchased legally in Pennsylvania.

Police on scene at supermarket after mass shooting

Buffalo Police on the scene at a Tops Friendly Market on 14 May 2022 in Buffalo, New York after a mass shooting that claimed 10 victims.

The
Buffalo shooting follows a pattern of other racially motivated mass murders in
recent years, including a Pittsburgh synagogue attack that left 11 congregants
dead in October 2018, and the Atlanta spa shootings in March 2021, in which a
white man killed eight people, targeting Asians.

Saturday’s
shooting spree was also reminiscent of the attack on a mosque in Christchurch,
New Zealand, in 2019, when the killer live-streamed the murders on Facebook.

Buffalo
Mayor Bryon Brown called for unity on what he called a “day of great pain
for our community”.

“Many
of us have been in and out of this supermarket many times,” he told
reporters. “We cannot let this hateful person divide our community or our
country.”


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