On May 14 (local time), an 18-year-old identified as Payton Gendron opened fire at a busy supermarket while live-streaming the attack on the streaming platform Twitch. The suspect entered the supermarket Tops on a busy afternoon with a rifle. He was wearing armour and had written the N-word on his rifle. As per the Police, it was a hate crime, and the majority of the dead were African-Americans.
BREAKING: The death toll has risen to 10 in a mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. https://t.co/N08wAwjwNc— The Associated Press (@AP) May 14, 2022
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has called it an act of “violent extremism”. Agent in charge of the Buffalo office of FBI Stephen Belongia said in a statement, “We are investigating this incident as both a hate crime and a case of racially-motivated violent extremism.”
Gendron reportedly drove for several hours to cover around 200 miles from his home near Binghamton to reach the area that has the majority of the black population. Reports suggest the shooting began in the parking area. Eyewitnesses confirmed he fired shots outside and then entered the supermarket. Grady Lewis, one of the eyewitnesses, said, “Then I seen the guy go in, army-style, bent over, just shooting at people.”
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said thirteen people were shot in the incident. Three of the victims who got wounded were employees of the supermarket. Their injuries are not life-threatening.
The supermarket was guarded by a retired police officer. He tried to shoot the suspect but got killed in the shooting. Gendron surrendered his weapon after a stand-off with the security forces. He was detained by the Police and later presented to the court, where he pleaded not guilty. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said in a statement that the suspect had been charged with first-degree murder. Further charges might get added later.
CBS quoted police sources saying that the suspect used racial slurs during the attack. One of the police officers at the scene was quoted by Buffalo News saying, “It’s like walking onto a horror movie, but everything is real. It is Armageddon-like.”
Speaking to reporters, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said it was the worst nightmare any community can face. He said, “We are hurting; we are seething right now. We cannot let this hateful person divide our community or our country.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul called the suspect a “white supremacist who has engaged in the act of terrorism”. She said the incident was “a military-style execution targeting people who simply wanted to buy groceries in a neighbourhood store.”
Statement by President Biden
In an official statement, United States President Joe Biden referred to the incident as ‘Domestic Terrorism’ and added that he and the first lady were praying for the victims and their families. He said, “Tonight, we grieve for the families of ten people whose lives were senselessly taken and everyone who is suffering the physical and emotional wounds of this horrific shooting. We are grateful for the bravery of members of law enforcement and other first responders who took immediate action to try to protect and save lives. The First Lady and I are praying for the victims and their families, and hearts all across this country are with the people of Buffalo.”
Referring to the incident as ‘Domestic Terrorism’ and pointing toward ‘white nationalist ideology’ he said, “We still need to learn more about the motivation for today’s shooting as law enforcement does its work, but we don’t need anything else to state a clear moral truth: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation. Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America. Hate must have no safe harbour. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”
The suspect pleaded not guilty
Hours after the shooting, the suspect, Payton Gendron, was presented in the court. Unnamed officials were quoted by the Independent saying that he might face life imprisonment. His court-appointed attorney pleaded not guilty in front of the judge at Buffalo City Court.
Manifesto confirmed he had planned every move
Gendron’s manifesto confirmed that he had planned every move. By looking at the way he had planned and added maps and other details, it looked like he had visited the store multiple times. In the manifesto, he had mentioned he would enter the supermarket like a regular customer to check if everything was in place and then go out and wear his armour.
The guy who is responsible for committing the shooting at the Tops on Jefferson in Buffalo is an absolute racist lunatic pic.twitter.com/DM0I8KhSAQ— Joel Jackson (@jjjacks17) May 14, 2022
From how he would kill the guard to details of which weapons he would use for the shooting were mentioned in the manifesto.
Twitch confirmed the shooting was live-streamed
The streaming platform Twitch confirmed that the shooting was live-streamed on their platform. In a statement, they added that the video had been removed from the platforms. They said, “We are devastated to hear about the shooting that took place this afternoon in Buffalo, New York. Our hearts go out to the community impacted by this tragedy. Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against the violence of any kind and works swiftly to respond to all incidents. The user has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content.”
The Hollywood Reporter quoted a Twitch representative saying that the video was removed two minutes after the shooting began at Tops Friendly Market.