Payton Gendron, 18-year-old, in heavy tactical gear, shot at shoppers and workers in a local supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and wounding three in the attack. The shooter is being investigated for committing a racially motivated hate crime.
According to reports, he was wearing body armor and a helmet camera and opened fire at bystanders outside Tops Friendly Market at around 2:30 pm on Saturday. The market was located in a predominantly black neighborhood in Buffalo, NY.
Police identified the shooter as Payton Gendron, who was able to live stream the shooting on Twitch before the platform cut off his feed. Gendron began shooting in the parking lot located outside the supermarket.
There, the store’s security guard, Aaron Salter, tried firing multiple shots at Gendron but failed to pierce the shooter’s armor. Salter was then killed by the gunman, who then proceeded to shoot up the establishment.
When the police arrived at the scene, ten people had already been killed while three were injured. Eleven of the bystanders shot were black. Gendron tried to aim his rifle at his neck but ultimately dropped the gun and surrendered after talking with the officers.
Suspicions are being raised on what pushed Gendron to do the shooting, particularly if it was racially motivated. One instance that points to this was when the shooter said “Sorry!” and did not shoot a person hiding behind the checkout counter after Gendron saw they were white.
“This was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John C. Garcia said at a news conference held after the tragedy. He proceeded to call the event a “straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community.”
Gendron was from Conklin, New York, a small town approximately 200 miles (320 kilometers) from Buffalo, where the shooting happened. Police said that the weapon Gendron used, an AR-15, was legally purchased, but the high-capacity magazine he used was not available for purchase inside New York.
The owner of the firearms store where the gun was bought said a background check was done on the suspect and showed nothing of concern.
“I knew nothing about it until I got the call from them. I couldn’t believe it,” the shop owner, Robert Donald, said. His store is in Endicott, around 200 miles away from Buffalo. “I just can’t believe it. I don’t understand why an 18-year-old would even do this,” he added. “I know I didn’t do anything wrong, but I feel terrible about it.”
Further investigation revealed that in 2021, when he was still a minor, Gendron made a “generalized threat” while he was attending Susquehanna Valley Central High School.
“Apparently, he was investigated when he was a high school student, brought to the attention of the authorities. He had a medical evaluation based on something he had written in school, and so we’re going to find out what happened in the aftermath,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said.
Gendron was charged with first-degree murder. According to Buffalo City Chief Judge Craig Hannah, he pleaded not guilty in court the night of the attack. Erie County Sherriff John Garcia added that Gendron is currently under suicide watch.
Later, an online manifesto with over 180 pages was uploaded online in alleged connection with the Buffalo mass shooting as it was reported that Gendron himself wrote it. In the manifesto, he observed how the white population was dwindling down and that there was a so-called replacement of “whites” culturally and ethically. There, he also describes himself as a fascist, a White supremacist, and an anti-Semite.
“We are obviously going through that with a fine-toothed comb and reviewing that for all evidence that may lead us to besides the manifesto itself,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told CNN.
A Message from Biden Regarding the Buffalo Mass Shooting
A day after the incident, President Joe Biden called for unity to help stem the “hate that remains a stain on the soul of America.”
In an address during an annual law enforcement ceremony at Capitol Hill, Biden said that he and the rest of the first family’s thoughts are with the victims of the mass shooting who were attacked “by a lone gunman, armed with weapons of war and hate-filled soul” and the families that are currently mourning their losses.
“We must all work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America,” Biden said during the 41st annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service. “Our hearts are heavy once again, but the resolve must never, ever waver.”
“No one understands this more than the people sitting in front of me,” he added, referring to the people in attendance.
Despite Biden’s message, many lawmakers still call for a stronger federal resolve from the administration to end a “uniquely American phenomenon” of mass shootings.
“It seems like there are those that belief owning a gun is more precious than the sanctity of human life,” the Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said in an interview.
“So I think people all across this country have to rise up. They have to speak more loudly and more clearly that there must be gun control in this country. This is a uniquely American phenomenon. These mass shootings don’t happen in other countries across the world.”
Critics would point out that the claim that mass shootings only happen in the US is not born out by the facts. At least 18 other countries have experience mass shootings in past decades. The shooter wrote in a long manifesto that he took inspiration from the March 15th, 2019 mass shooting in Christchurch New Zealand when a gunman killed 51 people in two mosques during worship services.
While gun violence in the US is higher than in other countries, so is the rate of gun ownership. It stands to reason that countries that do not see gun ownership as a right, will have fewer guns and less gun violence. That being said, the incidents that most often lead to gun violence in the US are domestic issues between partners, mental illness and substance abuse.