Stephen Belongia, the special agent in charge of the FBI field office, said that law enforcement officials were investigating the shooting as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism. Gramaglia said that 11 of the 13 people shot were Black.
BREAKING: BPD on scene of a mass shooting at the Tops in the 1200 block of Jefferson Avenue. Police say multiple people have been struck by gunfire. The shooter is in custody. Motorists and residents are urged to avoid the area.
— Buffalo Police Dept (@BPDAlerts) May 14, 2022
Gramaglia said the suspect, who was heavily armed and wearing tactical gear, used a camera to live-stream the attack and shot several victims in the parking lot before entering the store.
The grocery’s longtime security guard — a “hero in our eyes,” said Gramaglia — engaged the shooter but was killed by the encounter. Four of those killed were store employees and six were customers, law enforcement officials said.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the shooter, who has not been identified by officials, was not from the city. Brown said it was “a day of great pain for our community.”
Rep. Brian Higgins (DN.Y.) called the event “a terrible tragedy for the city.” He said the shooting was part of a nationwide problem: “When you have assault rifles in the possession of the wrong people, these kinds of things happen.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) wrote that she was “closely monitoring the shooting.
“We have offered assistance to local officials,” she tweeted. “If you are in Buffalo, please avoid the area and follow guidance from law enforcement and local officials.”
The Tops Friendly Markets store, which is located in a lower-income area of Buffalo, is a popular one that serves many people who live in the area. It’s centrally located to several area colleges, including Canisius College and Buffalo State College as well as a number of area churches.
The supermarket is about 10 minutes from the Canalside area of Buffalo, a popular area among locals and visitors.
A worker in the frozen dairy section who identified himself as Will G. told the Buffalo News that he had walked into the cooler to stock milk just minutes before the shooting. As gunfire rang out, he ended up joining others who hid out in the cooler.
“I just heard shots. Shots and shots and shots,” he said to the News. “It sounded like things were falling over.”
I added, “I hid. I just hid. I wasn’t going to leave that room.”
The shooting at the Buffalo officer grocery store Saturday echoes the March 2021 mass shooting in Boulder, Colo., when 10 people, including a police, were killed at a King Soopers grocery store.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism