- 18-year-old suspect was arraigned in court on 1st-degree murder charges.
- Police say gunman streamed shooting via camera affixed to helmet.
- White House says U.S. President Joe Biden is receiving regular updates.
A gunman opened fire with a rifle Saturday at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., in what authorities called a “racially motivated hate crime.” The shooter killed 10 people and wounded three others before being taken in custody, law enforcement officials said.
Police officials said the 18-year-old suspect, who is white, was wearing body armour and military-style clothing when he pulled up and opened fire at people at a Tops Friendly Market, the shooting streamed via a camera affixed to the man’s helmet.
“He exited his vehicle. He was very heavily armed. He had tactical gear. He had a tactical helmet on. He had a camera that he was livestreaming what he was doing,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a news conference afterward.
Gramaglia said the gunman initially shot four people outside the store, three fatally. Inside the store, a security guard who was a retired Buffalo police officer fired multiple shots at the gunman and struck him, but the bullet hit the gunman’s bulletproof vest and had no effect, Gramaglia added. The commissioner said the gunman then killed the security guard.
Video also captured the suspect as he walked into the supermarket where he shot several other victims inside, according to authorities.
Police said 11 of the shooting victims were Black and two are white, but did not specify who was killed. The shooting happened in a predominantly Black neighbourhood about five kilometres north of downtown Buffalo.
‘This was pure evil’
“This is the worst nightmare that any community can face, and we are hurting and we are seething right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference Saturday evening. “The depth of pain that families are feeling and that all of us are feeling right now cannot even be explained.”
Gramaglia said Buffalo police entered the store and confronted the gunman in the vestibule.
“At that point the suspect put the gun to his own neck. Buffalo police personnel — two patrol officers — talked the suspect into dropping the gun. He dropped the gun, took off some of his tactical gear, surrendered at that point. And he was led outside, put in a police car,” he said.
Wearing a hospital gown, the suspect was arraigned in court Saturday evening on first-degree murder charges and ordered detained without bail. Another court hearing is scheduled for next week.
At the earlier news briefing, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia pointedly called the shooting a hate crime.
“This was pure evil. It was straight up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community, outside of the City of Good Neighbors … coming into our community and trying to inflict that evil upon us,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said.
Elsewhere, NAACP President Derrick Johnson issued a statement in which he called the shooting “absolutely devastating.”
“Our hearts are with the community and all who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy. Hate and racism have no place in America. We are shattered, extremely angered and praying for the victims’ families and loved ones,” he added.
Separately, the Rev. Al Sharpton called on the White House to convene a meeting with Black, Jewish and Asian community leaders “to underscore the Federal government [is] escalating its efforts against hate crimes.” In a tweet, Sharpton said that “leaders of all these communities should stand together on this!”
The shooting came little more than a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Soopers grocery in Boulder, Colo., that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information about why they believe the man charged in that attack targeted the supermarket.
‘He was standing there with the gun to his chin’
At the scene in Buffalo on Saturday afternoon, police closed off an entire block, lined by spectators, and yellow police taped surrounded the full parking lot.
Tops Friendly Markets released a statement saying, “We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
At the White House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said U.S. President Joe Biden is receiving regular updates on the shooting and its aftermath.
Canadians across the country are grieving with the people of Buffalo today, following the horrific act of hatred that claimed the lives of several innocent people. To everyone affected, we’re keeping you in our thoughts during this difficult time.
“The president has been briefed by his Homeland Security advisor on the horrific shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., this afternoon. He will continue to receive updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as further information develops,” she said, adding the president and first lady were praying for the victims and their loved ones.
Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said.
More than two hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews was waiting outside the store, behind the police tape.
“We would like to know the status of my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was in there with her fiancé, they separated and went to different aisles,” she said.
“A bullet barely missed him. He was able to hide in a freezer but he was not able to get to my aunt and does not know where she is. We just would like word either way if she’s OK.”