At least 10 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Tops Markets grocery store in Buffalo, New York, according to law enforcement officials who spoke with the Associated Press, in addition to Buffalo Police.
The suspect was identified as Payton Gendron, of Conklin, about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo, officials told AP. Witnesses reported Gendron, an 18 year-old white male, was wearing military-style clothing in addition to the body armor, according to police.
Police report at least 13 people were shot. Four people were store employees, officials say. Of the victims, 11 were Black and two were white. One of the victims was a recently retired police officer who was working as a security guard at the store, according to officials.
The gunman entered the supermarket with a rifle and opened fire, according to one official who spoke with the AP. Investigators say he was livestreaming the shooting and were looking into whether he had posted a manifesto online, the official said.
The FBI is investigating the shooting as both a hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism, officials said Saturday.
The supermarket is in a predominately Black neighborhood, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) north of downtown Buffalo. The surrounding area is primarily residential, with a Family Dollar store and fire station near the store.
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?” 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.
More than two hours of the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews was waiting outside the store, behind the police tape.
“We would like to know the status of my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was in there with her fiance, they separated and went to different aisles,” she said. “A bullet barely missed him. He was able to hide in a freezer but he was not able to get to my aunt and does not know where she is. We just would like word either way if she’s OK.”
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said she’s monitoring the situation and has offered assistance to local law enforcement. On Saturday afternoon, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said in a press conference that he wanted to offer comfort to the families affected but knows “there is no comforting” them.
I am closely monitoring the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo. We have offered assistance to local officials. If you are in Buffalo, please avoid the area and follow guidance from law enforcement and local officials.
— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) May 14, 2022
“Buffalo is known as the city of good neighbors – nationally and internationally,” said Brown. “This is a community where people love each other. The shooter was not from this community. In fact, the shooter travelled hours from outside this community to perpetrate this crime on the people of Buffalo – a day when people were enjoying the sunshine, enjoying family and friends, all manner of happy activities… This is a day of great pain for our community.”
Brown explained this particular Tops store, given its large Black community patronage, is “near and dear to his heart” and that he and several local officials knew some of the people who were killed.
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. Investigators have not released any information about why they believe the man charged in that attack targeted the supermarket.
This is a breaking news story; please check back for updates.