An 18-year-old gunman shot 13 people, killing 10, in a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.
Police said the gunman was wearing tactical gear and livestreamed the shooting.
One official called the shooting a "racially motivated hate crime" in a press conference.
An 18-year-old white gunman, dressed in tactical gear and livestreaming on Twitch, opened fire on customers and employees at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday and fatally shot 10 people in what authorities described as a racially motivated mass shooting.
The shooting suspect, Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, had driven hours to reach the predominantly Black community in upstate New York, law enforcement officials told media.
As of Saturday night, authorities were investigating a hate-filled, racist manifesto that purported to explain the motive behind the alleged massacre.
The shooting suspect was arrested at the scene and arraigned that same day on a charge of first-degree murder. He appeared in court dressed in a white paper gown and wearing a white face mask, and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The man spoke briefly several times in court, answering "yes sir" and "I understand my charges" when asked by the judge.
—Erie News Now (@ErieNewsNow) May 15, 2022
Local and federal officials were quick to label the shooting as racially motivated. The FBI announced at a press conference it will investigate the incident as both a hate crime and "racially motivated violent extremism."
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the shooting an act of "white supremacist terrorism."
The massacre began shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, when the gunman arrived in the parking lot of a Tops supermarket and began shooting people in the parking lot before entering the store, authorities said.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told reporters that 10 people were killed and three injured in the shooting. Of those 13, 11 were Black and two were white. Four were employees of the store while nine were customers, he said. Authorities had not released the identities or ages of the victims as of Saturday evening.
Gramaglia offered high praise to one of the victims, a "beloved" Tops security guard and retired Buffalo police officer, who Gramaglia said engaged the gunman and fired multiple shots. Due to the gunman's heavy body armor, none of the shots deterred the gunman, who fatally shot the guard, Gramaglia said.
The guard was "a hero in our eyes," he added.
Eventually, when Buffalo police officers arrived, the gunman "put the gun to his own neck," Gramaglia said. Officers talked the suspect into dropping the gun and removing some tactical gear before he surrendered.
The gunman used a 'legally obtained weapon, but it was illegally modified'
The suspect is due to appear at a felony hearing on May 19, according to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn, who added the first-degree murder charge carries a potential penalty of life in prison without parole.
Flynn said his office is investigating the racial aspect to the alleged crime, but in the meantime, the shooting suspect is being held without bail.
"We have taken the appropriate steps right now to get him behind bars," Flynn said at a press conference.
New York leaders were quick to condemn the mass shooting, denouncing the racism and hatred that apparently provoked the attack.
"This is a community where people love each other. The shooter was not from this community," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told reporters at the press conference. "In fact, the shooter traveled from hours outside this community to perpetrate this crime on Buffalo."
Gov. Hochul used the opportunity to announce a "comprehensive gun package to address further loopholes that exist in our laws."
Authorities have not detailed the exact type of gun the suspect used, but Hochul said Saturday evening the shooter had used "a legally obtained weapon, but it was illegally modified." She did not elaborate on the weapon's modification.
"Nine states, as well as NYPD, have teamed up with us to make sure that we can identify when guns are coming across the border from places like Pennsylvania gun shows and ending up in small communities outside Binghamton or in Broome County," Hochul said. "We don't know that that is the source of the modifications made to a gun, but we're going to find out and we're going to continue addressing this every single way we can."
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