‘Pure evil’: At least 10 dead, 3 injured in ‘racially motivated’ attack at Buffalo supermarket

‘Pure evil’: At least 10 dead, 3 injured in ‘racially motivated’ attack at Buffalo supermarket

Published May 14, 2022
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Ten people were killed and three others injured in a “racially motivated” shooting at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, authorities said. 

Officials said the suspected gunman, a white 18-year-old man, traveled several hours to Buffalo to carry out the attack, which he livestreamed on social media. Eleven of the 13 people who were shot were Black, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a news conference.

The suspect was taken into custody after the attack, Gramaglia added. 

“This was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said. “It was a straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community.”

Gramaglia said the gunman was wearing tactical gear and was armed with an assault-styled rifle. He parked outside the Tops Friendly Market around 2:30 p.m. ET and opened fire in the parking lot, killing three people and injuring a fourth. He then went inside and continued his rampage, Gramaglia said.

A retired Buffalo police officer, who was working as a security guard at the store, confronted the gunman and shot him. Authorities said the gunman was hit, but his tactical gear prevented injury. 

The gunman returned fire, killing the guard. 

The supermarket is about 3 miles north of downtown Buffalo. The surrounding area is primarily residential and is surrounded by homes, along with a Family Dollar store, barber shops, a laundromat and fire station. Authorities said evidence showed the suspect showed racial animosity but declined to elaborate. 

The gunman made his way through the store, firing at others before he was met by law enforcement near the lobby of the store. Authorities said the gunman had his weapon pointed at his head and authorities were able to negotiate his surrender. 

“We are investigating this incident as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” said Stephen Belongia, special agent of charge of the FBI’s Buffalo field office. 

John Flynn, Erie County District Attorney, said the suspect would face a variety of charges, including hate crime charges, and would soon be arraigned. He declined to name the suspect, noting he didn’t want the alleged gunman to get notoriety. 

“I have already called a judge to come downtown immediately and arraign this individual,” he said. “Within the next hour, this individual will be arraigned on a charge of murder in the first degree.”

He declined to say where the suspect was from, only saying the suspect traveled hours and lived in the state of New York. 

Authorities say the gunman livestreamed the attack to social media. The footage shows the gunman, dressed in military gear, pulling up to the front of the store with a rifle on the front seat and then pointing the rifle at people in the parking lot as he exited the vehicle and opening fire, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. 

It also shows the suspect walking into the supermarket and shooting several other victims inside, the official said. 

Authorities were also looking into whether he had posted a manifesto online, the official said.

Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, said they’d just pulled into the parking lot of the store when they saw the alleged gunman leaving and being taken into custody.

“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?” Kephart said. He dropped to his knees. “He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun, and was tackled by the police.”

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.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said she is “closely monitoring” the shooting and that she has offered assistance to those in Buffalo, her hometown, according to her Twitter account. 

Buffalo is New York’s second-largest city, with a population of more than 278,000 people. 

The shooting came little more than a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Soopers grocery in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people.

Contributing: Diana Dombrowski, Journal News; The Associated Press.