Authorities say the suspected Buffalo supermarket shooter traveled hours away. Here’s what we know
Thirteen people, including 11 African Americans, were shot, including three with non-life-threatening injuries, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. Two victims were white, Gramaglia said.
“The shooter traveled for hours from outside this community to perpetrate this crime against the people of Buffalo on a day when people were enjoying the sunshine, enjoying family, enjoying friends,” the Mayor of Buffalo said. Byron Brown, during a press conference on Saturday evening. “People in a supermarket, shopping and bullets raining down on them. People’s lives are snuffed out in an instant for no reason.”
The suspect, Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old white man, has been charged with first-degree murder, Buffalo City Court Chief Judge Craig Hannah told CNN, adding that the district attorney’s office plans to charge suspect and lay additional charges. Gendron pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The suspect first opened fire in the store’s parking lot, then moved inside, where he continued firing before surrendering to police, Gramaglia said.
The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism, said Stephen Belongia, FBI special agent in charge of the Buffalo field office.
Here’s what we know about the shooting and the investigation.
The suspect broadcast the violence live
At around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, the suspect drove to the Tops Friendly Markets supermarket on Jefferson Avenue, got out of his vehicle and shot four people in the parking lot, Gramaglia said. Three of those people died while another is expected to survive, Gramaglia said.
“He was very heavily armed,” the commissioner said. “He had tactical gear, he had a tactical helmet, he had a camera that he was live streaming what he was doing.”
The suspect used an assault weapon, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said.
Live-streaming platform Twitch confirmed on Saturday that the suspect used his platform to live-stream during the attack.
The company said it was “devastated” to learn of the shooting and added that the user “has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring any account reposting this content.”
After shooting four people in the parking lot, the suspect entered the store and began shooting at customers. A security guard inside the store, who was a retired Buffalo police officer, shot the suspect. But because the suspect was wearing heavy armour, the bullets had no effect, Gramaglia said.
The suspect shot and killed the security guard and continued to push his way through the store, the commissioner said. When police arrived, the suspect put his gun to his neck, but then dropped the gun and removed some of his gear, he added.
He surrendered and was transported to Buffalo Police Headquarters.
Erie County Sheriff John C. Garcia said the suspect is currently on suicide watch.
During his arrest, Gendron made some very disturbing statements describing his motive and state of mind following his arrest, according to an official familiar with the investigation. The alleged shooter made it known that he was targeting the black community during statements, according to the official.
Gramaglia said warrants were being obtained for the suspect’s home, vehicle, social media platforms, computer, phone and other digital technology. Gramaglia said that at the time, the investigation shows that Gendron acted on his own in the shooting.
Investigators examine a manifesto
Investigators were reviewing an alleged manifesto posted online Saturday as part of the Buffalo mass shooting investigation, two federal law enforcement officials told CNN.
The manifesto, independently obtained by CNN shortly after the attack and before authorities released the suspect’s name, was allegedly written by a person claiming to be Payton Gendron confessing to the attack.
The author of the manifesto says he bought ammunition for a while but did not take planning for the attack seriously until January.
The author of the manifesto continues on his perceptions of the shrinking size of the white population and his claims for ethnic and cultural replacement of white people.
Part of the document is written in the form of questions and answers. The author of the manifesto attributes most of his beliefs to the Internet, describes himself as a fascist, a white supremacist and an anti-Semite.
Garcia, the Erie County Sheriff, said the shooting was a “racially motivated hate crime committed by someone outside of our community.”
“It was pure evil,” the sheriff said.
The supermarket is located near the predominantly black neighborhoods of Masten Park and Kingsley.
“You now have a white…abuser in a (predominantly) black community. Why did he choose this deal?” CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem said.
Asked at Saturday’s press conference why authorities are calling the mass shooting a hate crime, Flynn, the district attorney, said investigators have “some evidence” that “points to a certain racial animosity”.
“I’m not going to… elaborate on exactly what they are right now, but we have evidence in custody right now that shows there is a racial component to it,” Flynn said.
Further investigation over the weekend also revealed that Gendron made a “widespread threat” while attending Susquehanna Valley Central High School in June 2021, Gramaglia said.
Additionally, Gramaglia said Gendron was in Buffalo on Friday and authorities determined some locations he had visited prior to filming, adding that he scouted the Tops Friendly Markets store.
What we know about the victims
Of the 13 people shot, 11 are African American and two are white, said Gramaglia, the police commissioner.
Four of those shot were store employees, he said. One, the security guard, was killed while the other three suffered “non-fatal injuries”, he said.
The families of all the victims have been notified, Gramaglia said at a news conference on Sunday.
On Sunday, Buffalo’s mayor identified the security guard as Aaron Salter, telling CNN’s “New Day Weekend” that he was a former Buffalo police lieutenant. He was highly respected throughout the police department, Mayor Brown said, and had worked at the supermarket for several years after his retirement.
Salter, he said, “is a hero, who tried to protect people in the store, tried to save lives, and in the process lost his life.”
Another victim was identified as the mother of the former city fire marshal, per Brown. She had gone to visit her husband at a nursing home, Brown told CNN, when she stopped to buy a few items at the supermarket.
Authorities have yet to share any other information, including the ages of the victims.
CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Shimon Prokupecz and Brian Stelter contributed to this report.