The white 18-year-old who fatally shot 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket researched the local demographics and arrived a day in advance to conduct reconnaissance with the intent of killing as many Black people as possible, officials said Sunday.
Authorities said the gunman shot, in total, 11 Black people and two white people Saturday in a rampage motivated by racial hatred that he broadcast live. All of the victims killed were Black, and two of the three survivors have been released from the hospital, according to police sources.
"This individual came here with the express purpose of taking as many Black lives as he could," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference Sunday.
The Buffalo attack prompted grief and anger in the predominantly Black neighborhood around Tops Friendly Market. A group of people gathered there Sunday afternoon to lead chants of “Black lives matter” and mourn victims that included an 86-year-old woman who had just visited her husband in a nursing home and a supermarket security guard, both of whom were Black.
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“Somebody filled his heart so full of hate that he would destroy and devastate our community,” the Rev. Denise Walden-Glenn said.
The shooter, identified as Payton Gendron, had previously threatened a shooting at his New York high school last June, law enforcement officials said. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the then-17-year-old was brought in for a mental health evaluation and then released.
"There was nothing picked up on the state police intelligence, nothing picked up on the FBI intelligence," Gramaglia said, who noted the 18-year-old had no further contact with law enforcement after he was released.
The assault rifle used in the attack was legally purchased in New York, a senior law enforcement official said. A hunting rifle and shotgun were also found at the scene. In addition to the guns, the suspect had multiple 30-round magazines on his person at the time of the shooting, according to the official.
"The evidence we uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime," Gramaglia said. "It will be prosecuted as a hate crime. This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind."
Meanwhile, federal authorities were still working to confirm the authenticity of a racist 180-page manifesto that detailed the plot and identified the 18-year-old by name as the gunman, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. Authorities say the shooting was motivated by racial hatred.
Federal agents interviewed the parents of the suspected gunman and served multiple search warrants, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. His parents were cooperating with investigators, the official said.
A preliminary investigation found the suspected gunman had repeatedly visited sites espousing white supremacist ideologies and race-based conspiracy theories and extensively researched the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the man who killed dozens at a summer camp in Norway in 2011, the official said.
The manifesto posted online and purportedly written by the 18-year-old, outlined a racist ideology rooted in a belief that the United States should belong only to white people. All others, the document said, were “replacers” who should be eliminated by force or terror. The attack was intended to intimidate all non-white, non-Christian people and get them to leave the country, it said.
It wasn’t immediately clear why the 18-year-old had traveled about 200 miles from his Conklin, New York, to Buffalo and that particular grocery store, but investigators believe he had specifically researched the demographics of the population around the Tops Friendly Market and had been searching for communities with a high number of African American residents, the official said. The market is located in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
Gramaglia said that the gunman had been in town “at least the day before.”
“It seems that he had come here to scope out the area, to do a little reconnaissance work on the area before he carried out his just evil, sickening act,” the commissioner said.
Portions of the Twitch video circulating online showed the gunman firing volley after volley of shots in less than a minute as he raced through the parking lot and then the store, pausing for just a moment to reload. At one point, he trains his weapon on a white person cowering behind a checkout counter, but says “Sorry!” and doesn’t shoot.
Screenshots purporting to be from the broadcast appear to show a racial slur targeting Black people scrawled on his rifle, as well as the number 14 — likely referencing a white supremacist slogan.
“We pray for their families. But after we pray — after we get up off of our knees — we’ve got to demand change. We’ve got to demand justice,” state Attorney General Letitia James said an emotional church service in Buffalo on Sunday morning. “This was domestic terrorism, plain and simple.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, to demand the technology industry take responsibility for its role in propagating hate speech.
Hochul told ABC that the heads of technology companies “need to be held accountable and assure all of us that they’re taking every step humanly possible to be able to monitor this information."
“How these depraved ideas are fermenting on social media — it’s spreading like a virus now,” she said Sunday, adding that a lack of oversight could lead others to emulate the shooter.
Speaking at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial service at the U.S. Capitol, President Joe Biden said, “We must all work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America.”
The president and first lady will travel to Buffalo on Tuesday, the White House announced Sunday.
Photos: Supermarket Mass Shooting in Buffalo, NY
Buffalo Shooter Manifesto
The shooter appears to have posted an apparent manifesto online late Thursday night, according to NBC News, with details of a planned crime that match exactly Saturday's shooting. It shows a shared birth date and biographical details in common with the suspect.
A senior law enforcement official told NBC News they were aware of the document and were working to confirm the author.
The virulently racist and anti-Semitic tract makes clear the gunman targeted Buffalo because of the size of the city's Black population. It adopts the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that falsely alleges Jews are working to replace white Americans with people of color.
In the document, the author claims that he was radicalized on an extremist 4chan forum while he was “bored” at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. It also makes frequently nods to the white supremacist who killed 51 people in New Zealand in 2019.