BUFFALO, New York —A white 18-year-old Payton Gendron, wearing military gear and live streaming with a helmet camera, opened fire at Tops Friendly Market on May 14th. Ten people were killed, and three others were wounded. The shooting was investigated as a hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism.
On Saturday afternoon, at Tops Friendly Market, a predominantly Black neighbourhood. The gunman dressed in military gear opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle he had bought legally, but the magazine he used for ammunition was illegal.
According to police, he began shooting in the parking lot, then moved inside the store, where he shot a security guard Aaron Salter, a retired Buffalo police officer. He then proceeded to go through the aisles, shooting shoppers.
The gunman broadcast Livestream, the shooting on social media called Twitch, a live video service owned by Amazon.com. Several minutes after Twitch removed the Livestream. A Twitch spoke person explained that the gunman’s account was closed indefinitely. And they are monitoring for any re-broadcasting of the content.
Police officers confronted the gunman in the store, he put his rifle to his neck, but with persuasion from the officers, he dropped his gun and surrendered. Out of the 13 victims, ten were shot dead, and three were wounded.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia called the mass shooting pure evil and racially motivated.
Who is the gunman?
Payton Gendron, the suspected gunman, is not from the neighbourhood. He is from Conklin, New York, a small town about three and a half hours southeast of Buffalo, where he lived with his parents and two younger brothers. He travelled far to target a Black neighbourhood.
Investigators and people say no one saw this coming. People who knew him said he was a quiet and intelligent person.
In June of last year, at Susquehanna Valley High School, Gendron threatened to carry out a mass shooting around graduation. State police brought him in for a mental evaluation, but nothing happened out of it.
On Wednesday, Erie County grand jury had voted to charge Gendron with first-degree murder, which carries a maximum term in New York of life in prison without parole. Gendron—who had pleaded not guilty- was put under suicide watch.
The shooting appears to be planned
First, in early March, he visited Tops supermarket two months before and was questioned by a security guard.
Second, a document circulated widely online appeared to have been written by the suspect. Supposedly outlines Gendron’s racist, anti-immigrant and antisemitic beliefs.
And another document appeared to show how the gunman carefully planned the massacre. It contained sketches of the supermarket outlining different aisles he could navigate quickly, allegedly describing the store as the first location and listing other possible nearby places.
Lastly, he visited the store a day before the deadly assault.
The President Pays Respect
On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden paid their respects in Buffalo and they visited the families of the victims.
One can argue that Buffalo’s mass killing rampage demonstrates America’s failure to stop gun violence. It will take complex and collaborative work to tackle this sickness.
As New York City Mayor Eric Adams explained in January, “Gun violence is a public health crisis. …The sea of violence comes from many rivers. We must dam every river that feeds this greater crisis,”.