The Tops Friendly Market where the shooting took place is located in the heart of Buffalo’s Black community and 11 of the 13 people shot by the White suspect were Black, officials said.
“This was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John C. Garcia said at a Saturday news conference, calling the shooting a “straight up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community.”
The US Department of Justice is investigating the shooting “as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism,” according to a statement from US Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, was charged with first degree murder Saturday, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said in a news release. Conklin is about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Buffalo.
I pleaded not guilty.
Here’s what we know about the shooting suspect.
Authorities say when the suspect arrived at the store around 2:30 pm, he was heavily armed, wearing tactical gear, a helmet and had a camera that was livestreaming his actions.
The suspect used an assault weapon, Flynn said during the news conference.
In his news release, Flynn said the suspect shot four people outside of the grocery store, three fatally. When he entered the store, he exchanged fire with an armed security guard, who authorities said was a retired Buffalo police officer. The security guard died of his injuries. The suspect shot eight more people in the store, six of whom died, the release said.
The popular livestreaming platform Twitch confirmed Saturday that the shooting suspect used its platform to stream a live broadcast during the attack.
The company said it was “devastated” to hear about the shooting and added that the user “has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content.”
CNN obtained a portion of the livestream that shows the alleged shooter pulling up to a Tops store.
The video is recorded from the point of view of the alleged shooter as he is driving into the supermarket’s parking lot. The person is seen in the rearview mirror wearing a helmet and is heard saying, “Just got to go for it,” before he pulls into the front of the store.
In the video, store patrons can be seen walking through the parking lot as the suspect drives up.
A spokesperson for Twitch said the company removed the livestream less than two minutes after the violence started. The company did not immediately respond to follow-up questions about whether the suspect was actively firing when the livestream was halted.
Investigators were reviewing Saturday a 180-page purported manifesto that was posted online in connection with the shooting probe, two federal law enforcement sources told CNN.
The manifesto, independently obtained by CNN shortly after the attack and before authorities released the suspect’s name, is allegedly written by a person claiming to be Payton Gendron confessing to the attack.
The manifesto’s author says he bought ammo for some time but didn’t get serious about planning the attack until January. The author also goes on about his perceptions of the dwindling size of the White population and claims of ethnic and cultural replacement of Whites.
A portion of the document is written in question-and-answer form.
The manifesto’s author attributes the internet for most of his beliefs and describes himself as a fascist, a White supremacist and an anti-Semite.
Gendron was arraigned Saturday evening before Buffalo City Court Chief Judge Craig Hannah on one count of first-degree murder, the district attorney’s news release said.
He pleaded not guilty, Hannah told CNN. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole, the release said.
And there may be more charges coming, officials said.
“My office is working closely with the US Attorney’s Office and our partners in law enforcement into potential terrorism and hate crimes. This is an active investigation and additional charges may be filed,” Flynn said in a statement.
Gendron is set to return to court on the morning of May 19 for a felony hearing, the release said. He will remain in custody without bail, it added.