Police in Buffalo, New York, labelled the mass shooting at a supermarket as a racist hate crime. The incident took place Saturday in a Black neighborhood, killing at least 10 people.
“The evidence that we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Sunday. “This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind.”
The statement came a day after police arrested the gunman, who opened fire at the Tops Friendly Markets store. Other than the 10 casualties, three others were injured in the incident.
Police identified the suspect as an 18-year-old from Conklin, New York, who carried a rifle as he entered the supermarket. The suspect allegedly wrote a White supremacist manifesto online, traveled about 200 miles to the store and livestreamed the attack/
“We continue to investigate this case as a hate crime, a federal hate crime and as a crime perpetrated by a racially motivated, violent extremist,” Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo field office reportedly said.
The victims of the incident included a former Buffalo police lieutenant working as a security guard and the 86-year-old mother of Buffalo’s retired fire commissioner, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, according to CNN.
The suspect has been named Payton S. Gendron. He has been charged with first-degree murder, prosecutors said. On Saturday night, Gendron pleaded not guilty to the charges placed against him in court.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told CNN that investigators believe the suspect targeted the area at the busiest time.
“This was targeted by zip code,” Hochul said. “This was the highest concentration of African-Americans within hours.”
Hochul also told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that the suspect was “on the radar” of law enforcement.
“Just as a high school student with respect to something he wrote in high school and was under surveillance at the time with medical authorities,” she said.
It remains unclear from where the suspect obtained the rifle. An investigation is underway.