After white 18-year-old wearing military gear and live-streaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, killing 10 people and wounding three others, US president Joe Biden said racially hate motivated crime was “abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation”.
Police said the attacker shot 11 Black and two white victims before surrendering to authorities in an assault he broadcast on the streaming platform Twitch. Later, he appeared before a judge in a paper medical gown and was arraigned on a murder charge. I pleaded not guilty.
In a statement, Biden said: “We still need to learn more about the motivation for [the] shooting as law enforcement does its work, but we don’t need anything else to state a clear moral truth: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation.”
Biden added: ““Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America. Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”
The suspected gunman in Saturday’s attack on Tops Friendly Market was identified as Payton Gendron, of Conklin, New York, about 200 miles (320km) south-east of Buffalo.
It wasn’t immediately clear why Gendron had traveled to Buffalo and that particular grocery store. A clip apparently from his Twitch feed of him, posted on social media, showed Gendron arriving at the supermarket in his car.
The gunman shot four people outside the store, three fatally, said Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. Inside the store, security guard Aaron Salter, a retired Buffalo police officer, fired multiple shots. A bullet hit the gunman’s bulletproof armor but had no effect, Gramaglia said.
The gunman then killed the guard, the commissioner said, then stalked through the store shooting other victims.
Police entered the store and confronted the gunman in the vestibule. He put his rifle to his own neck, but two officers talked him into dropping the gun, Gramaglia said.
“This is the worst nightmare that any community can face, and we are hurting and we are seeing right now,” Buffalo Major Byron Brown said at the news conference.
“The depth of pain that families are feeling and that all of us are feeling right now cannot even be explained.”
Twitch said in a statement that it ended Gendron’s transmission “less than two minutes after the violence started”.
A law enforcement official told the Associated Press that investigators were looking into whether he had posted an online manifesto. The official was not permitted to speak publicly on the matter and did so on the condition of anonymity.
Buffalo police declined to comment on the document, circulated widely online, that purports to outline the attacker’s racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic beliefs, including a desire to drive all people not of European descent from the US. It said he drew inspiration the man who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.
The video posted online also seemed to show a racial slur written on the weapon used.
Among the dead was Ruth Whitfield, the 86-year-old mother of a retired Buffalo fire commissioner.
“My mother was a mother to the motherless. She was a blessing to all of us,” former Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield told the Buffalo News.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson issued a statement in which he called the Buffalo shooting “absolutely devastating”.
“Hate and racism have no place in America,” he said.
The Rev Al Sharpton called on the White House to agree to a meeting with Black, Jewish and Asian leaders to demonstrate a federal commitment to combating hate crimes.
In 2019, another white man, Patrick Crusius, drove across Texas to kill Hispanic people at a Walmart in the border city of El Paso and carried out a gun attack that left 23 people dead.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism