Buffalo, NY convenience store shooting: 10 killed at Tops Friendly Market; 18-year-old gunman charged, officials say

BUFFALO, NY — A teenage gunman in military gear and live-streaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a convenience store in Buffalo, New York that authorities described as “racially motivated violent extremism,” killing 10 people and wounding three more Saturday before he surrendered, authorities said.

Police officials said the 18-year-old gunman, who is white, was wearing body armor and military fatigues when he stopped at a Tops Friendly Market and opened fire on people. The shots were streamed via a camera attached to the man’s helmet.

“He got out of his vehicle. He was very heavily armed. He had tactical gear. He was wearing a tactical helmet. He had a camera that he used to broadcast live what he was doing,” Joseph Gramaglia, the city’s police commissioner, said at a subsequent news conference.

Gramaglia said the gunman initially shot four people outside the store, three fatally. At the store, a security guard who was a retired Buffalo police officer fired multiple shots at the gunman, hitting him, but the bullet struck 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 entering the supermarket, where he shot several other victims inside, according to authorities.

Police said 11 of the victims were black and two were white. The supermarket is located in a predominantly black neighborhood a few miles north of downtown Buffalo.

President Joe Biden issued a statement regarding the shooting.

“Tonight we mourn the families of ten people who lost their lives senselessly and all who are suffering the physical and emotional wounds of this horrific shooting. We are grateful for the courage of law enforcement members 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 across the country are with the people of Buffalo,” Biden said. “We still need to learn more about the motivation for today’s shooting while law enforcement goes about its business, but we need no more to state a stark moral truth: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation. Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act committed in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is contrary to everything we stand for in America. Hate cannot have a safe haven. We must do everything in our power to end domestic hatred and terrorism.”

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“This is the worst nightmare any community can face and we are suffering and seething right now,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at the news conference. “The depth of pain that families are feeling and that we are all feeling right now cannot even be explained.”

Gramaglia said Buffalo police entered the store and confronted the gunman in the front room.

“At that point, the suspect put the gun to his own neck. Buffalo police personnel – two patrol officers – persuaded the suspect to drop the gun. He dropped the weapon, removed some of his tactical gear, and surrendered at that point. And he was taken outside, put in a police car,” he said.

The suspected shooter was later identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, a community in upstate New York about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Buffalo, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. Officials were not allowed to comment publicly on the matter and did so on condition of anonymity.

Wearing a hospital gown, Gendron was tried on Saturday night for first-degree murder and detained without bail. Another court hearing is scheduled for next week.

At the earlier news conference, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia specifically called the shooting a hate crime.

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“It was pure evil. It was a racially motivated hate crime by someone outside of our community, outside of the town of good neighbors… who came into our community and tried to do this evil to us,” Garcia said.

Elsewhere, NAACP President Derrick Johnson issued a statement calling the shooting “absolutely devastating.”

“Our hearts go out to the community and everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. Hatred and racism have no place in America. We are devastated, extremely upset and praying for the families and loved ones of the victims,” ​​he added.

Separately, Rev. Al Sharpton called on the White House to call a meeting with Blacks, Jews and Asians “to underscore that the federal government is escalating its efforts on hate crime.” In a tweet, Sharpton said that “Leaders of all these communities should stand together on this!”

The shooting came just over a year after a March 2021 attack on a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information as to why they believe the man charged in this attack targeted the supermarket.

At the Buffalo crime scene, police cordoned off an entire block lined with onlookers Saturday afternoon, with yellow police surrounding the entire parking lot.

Witnesses Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the gunman emerged. They described him as a white male in his late teens or early 20s with full camouflage, a black helmet and what appeared to be a gun.

“He stood there with the gun to his chin. We were wondering what the hell is going on? Why does that boy have a gun in his face?” said Kephart. He fell to his knees. “He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun and was attacked by the police.”

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.”

Speaking at the White House, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden received regular updates on the shooting and the investigation and had prayed with the first lady for the victims and their families.

“The President was briefed by his Homeland Security Advisor this afternoon on the horrific shooting in Buffalo, NY. He will have updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as more information develops,” she said.

Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said.

More than two hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews waited outside the store behind police tape.

“We would like to know the status of my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was there with her fiancé, they broke up and went into different aisles,” she said. “A bullet just missed him. He was able to hide in a freezer but he couldn’t get to my aunt and doesn’t know where she is. We’d just like to know if she’s okay.”

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Associated Press reporters John Wawrow in Buffalo and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report. Balsamo reported from Washington and Collins from Hartford, Connecticut.

ABC News contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://abc13.com/buffalo-new-york-shooting-supermarket/11849734/ Buffalo, NY convenience store shooting: 10 killed at Tops Friendly Market; 18-year-old gunman charged, officials say

Chrissy Callahan

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