May 15, 2022
BUFFALO N.Y. – Thirteen people were shot, ten of them killed, in a shooting that took place in Buffalo Saturday afternoon.
Police say the suspect, eighteen year old Payton Gendron of Conklin NY, drove three hours to the Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly black neighborhood. Gendron arrived at approximately 2:30 pm, wearing tactical gear and body armor, including a helmet with a video camera attached. Three to four people were shot in the parking lot. He then went into the store and began shooting, live streaming the event online.
One of the victims, a retired Buffalo police officer working as security, shot and hit Gendron. However the suspect, wearing body armor, was unharmed and returned fire, killing the officer.
The suspect is reported to have posted a 180 page racist, anti-immigrant rant online, which included detailed plans for the attack as well as his belief in the idea of “replacement theory”, the white supremacist ideology that white Americans are at risk of becoming replaced by people of color. The belief was once regarded to be a fringe idea, but has become more mainstream in the past few years.
In a portion of his rant, Gendron wrote that he had been preparing for this attack for a couple years, and had specifically chosen this neighborhood in Buffalo because it held the highest percentage of black residents near his home here in the Southern Tier.
When police arrived, Gendron put a gun to his neck, but was persuaded to drop the weapon. He was taken into custody and charged with first degree murder and entered a plea of “not guilty.” He told the judge he was unable to afford an attorney, so a public defender was appointed.
Yesterday’s shooting is regarded as one of the deadliest racist attacks in recent American history.
In a press conference, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown described the day as “painful.”
“Some of the victims of this shooter’s attack are people that all of us standing up here know,” he said.
“This is my community. I know this community well, I’ve walked these streets,” said Governor Kathy Hochul. “I know the individuals who live here. It’s a wonderful tight knit neighborhood. And to see that sense of security shattered by an individual, a white supremacist who has engaged in an act of terrorism and will be prosecuted as such…it strikes us in our very hearts to know that there is such evil that lurks out there…”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime as well as an act of “racially motivated violent extremism.”
Cover photo by Derek Gee, The Buffalo News.