At least 10 people were killed at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket when a “heavily armed” gunman carrying an assault-style weapon opened fire on store employees and customers Saturday afternoon, police and city officials said.
The shooter drove to the Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue around 2:30 pm, exiting his vehicle dressed in armored tactical gear and a helmet adorned with a camera he used to livestream his movements, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said.
The gunman first opened fire in the parking lot, killing three people and injuring a fourth, Gramaglia said. Then he allegedly moved into the supermarket where a security guard on duty exchanged gunfire with the 18-year-old suspect.
That guard, a retired Buffalo police officer, was shot and killed before the shooter moved further into the store, firing on customers and store employees, the commissioner said. Six people, including the guard, died inside the store. Police officials at a press conference said 11 of the 13 victims were Black.
Officials said responding police met the shooter at the front of the store and talked him into dropping his firearm and surrendering. Police arrested the man, who was expected to be arraigned on murder charges late Saturday.
The local FBI office is investigating the case as a hate crime and a tragedy of “racially-motivated violent extremism.” The suspected gunman, a white man accused of driving more than three hours to the predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo where the store is located, may have posted a manifesto online, police sources said.
“What started out as a beautiful day in the city of Buffalo has turned into a terrible day,” Major Byron Brown said. “This is the worst nightmare that any community can face.”
The supermarket is in a predominantly Black neighborhood, about 3 miles north of downtown Buffalo. The surrounding area is primarily residential, with a Family Dollar store and fire station near the store.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” a statement from a Tops Friendly Markets spokesperson said. “We appreciate the quick response of local law enforcement and are providing all available resources to assist authorities in the ongoing investigation.”
People in the immediate vicinity were asked to avoid the store while police investigate.
Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the shooter was exiting. They described him as a white male in his late teens or early twenties sporting full camo, a black helmet and what appeared to be a rifle.
“He was standing there with the gun to his chin. We were like what the heck is going on? Why does this kid have a gun to his face from him? Kephart said. He dropped to his knees. “He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun, and was tackled by the police.”
Photos: Supermarket Mass Shooting in Buffalo, NY
Police closed off the block, lined by spectators, and yellow police taped surrounded the full parking lot. Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were at the scene late Saturday afternoon, gathered in a parking lot across the street from the Tops store and expected to address the media.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said she was “closely monitoring” the shooting and had offered assistance to local officials.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism