Ten people have been killed in a horrific shooting incident at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, which officials quickly labeled “totally insane” and motivated by racism. The shooting surprised a population enjoying a bright May afternoon, with shoppers crowding the Tops in a mostly Black area at 1275 Jefferson Avenue.
The Buffalo News quoted Shonnell Harris, an operating administrator at the Tops at the time of the incident, as stating, “It’s the weekend, so it was busy.” When she heard gunfire, Harris claimed she dashed through the store, tumbling many times before fleeing through the rear. She described the shooter as a white man dressed in camouflage. She commented, “He looked like he was in the army.” She believed she had heard 70 gunfire.
As per Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, 11 of the 13 people being shot were black and two were white. As of late Saturday night, the majority of the victims’ identities had not been revealed. According to The Buffalo News, one of the victims was Aaron Salter, a retired senior Buffalo police officer who worked as a security guard at the store, and the other was Ruth Whitfield, the mother of former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield.
This is the worst massacre in Buffalo’s history. “As a community, we are hurting and fuming right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown stated at a press conference immediately after the shooting. From her Riley Street porch, Katherine Crofton, a retired fireman, and medic witnessed the shooting. She claimed she heard gunfire while playing with her dog and smoking a cigarette.
Crofton claimed, “I didn’t notice him at first, but I turned around and saw him shoot this woman.” “She was on her way to the store.” He then shot a third woman. She was loading groceries into her car at the time. I knelt because I was afraid he was going to shoot me.”
Four of the victims were workers of the store. As per Gramaglia, the security guard who engaged the attacker was among the dead. Salter was acclaimed as a champion by Gramaglia.
Erie County Medical Center received the three injured patients. One was discharged, while the other two remained in stable condition Saturday night, as per a hospital spokesman.
Braedyn Kaphart and Shayne Hill came practically face to face with the shooter as he departed the Tops Market, pulling their vehicle into a parking space in the Tops lot.
As per Kephart, the shooter appeared to be prepared to commit suicide.
Kephart reported him as “standing there in his military outfit with his weapon to his chin, appearing like he was about to rip his head off.” “We had no clue what was happening on. When he did so, he collapsed to his knees, still seeming as if he was about to shoot himself.” As cops yelled at them to go back in their car, Kephart said she turned aside for a moment. As Kephart returned her gaze, she saw officers grappling with the man. Crofton also saw the first rescuers approach.
“He just stood there while the cops screamed at him as he went out of the store.” He remained still. Crofton described it as “as though he wanted them to shoot him.” When a second police car arrived, policemen stepped out and leaped on the gunman, Crofton continued. On Saturday evening, the suspected gunman was charged with first-degree murder in front of Buffalo City Court Judge Craig Hannah. Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, near Binghamton, was identified in court as the suspect. Stephen Belongia, the FBI’s local director, said the incident is being investigated “as a hate crime and race-related violent extremism.”
“It was a racially charged hate crime straight out,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said. “This individual was pure wickedness,” Garcia remarked. As per a police officer on the site, at least four deaths were discovered in the parking lot. A few other casualties were discovered inside the store, as per sources, and several of the corpses looked to be sheltering near the cash register lines.
“It’s as if I’ve walked into a horror film, except everything is genuine.” A police source told The News that the situation is “Armageddon-like.” “It’s extremely daunting.”
Authorities found evidence that the assault was motivated by “racial hostility,” according to Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn.
In a statement issued late Saturday night, President Biden stated, “A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the fundamental fiber of this nation.” “Domestic terrorism, especially terrorism committed in the name of a disgusting white racist movement, is diametrically opposed to everything we stand for in America. Hate must be denied a safe haven.”
A man wearing a white paper robe and a white face mask is photographed inside the courthouse.
Under that identity, the alleged gunman, who will turn 19 next month, has a minor online profile. He used to be a student at SUNY Broome Community College, but he no longer attends. A college representative refuses to reveal when he attended or when and why he dropped out.
“I’ve verified that we have a former pupil with that name.” In an email, Silvia C. Briga, director of marketing, communications, and public information at SUNY Broome, claimed they were no longer registered.
In the hours following the deadly shooting, a hate-filled 180-page manifesto supposedly written by the suspected shooter spread on social media. The Buffalo News was unable to confirm its legitimacy right away.
Governor Kathy Hochul, who flew from Albany to Buffalo Saturday evening, termed the shooting “a terrorist act.”
“Knowing that such evil lurks out there strikes us in our own hearts,” she remarked at a press conference. “Yes, I’m here to comfort the grieving families and communities, but make no mistake: we’ll be active in our search of anyone who subscribes to the principles expressed by other white supremacists.”
Hochul then went after others who support those viewpoints on social media platforms. “Those who supply these platforms have a moral, ethical, and hopefully legal obligation to ensure that such hate does not populate these sites,” she said. As per police sources, the gunman wore body armor, wore a military-grade mask, was armed with a high-powered weapon, and streamed live the incident.
“It’s like a dream, but I know it’s not a dream,” Tops operation manager Harris said. “This is something you read about, but you never feel,” GYC Ministries pastor Tim Newkirk said, putting his arm around Harris, his sister.
“You watch it on TV, and you never think you’re going to be one of them,” Harris said. Harris was discovered safe behind the building with his daughter Denise, who also works at the shop. “All I did was grab her and embrace her.”