At least ten killed in ‘racially motivated’ mass shooting at US grocery store in New York
A heavily armed 18-year-old man shot and killed 10 people Saturday in a “racially motivated” attack at a Buffalo, New York grocery store, which he live-streamed on camera, officials said.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference that the gunman, wearing body armor and a helmet, was arrested after the massacre.
Gramaglia raised the death toll to 10 and three were wounded. Eleven of the victims were African Americans.
Gramaglia said the gunman shot four people in the parking lot of a Topps supermarket, killing three of them, then went inside and continued to shoot.
A retired police officer working as an armed security guard was also among those killed inside the store.
Gramaglia said the guards “engaged the suspect, fired several shots,” but the gunman shot him.
When the police arrived, the shooter put the gun on his neck, but was talked about and he surrendered.
Stephen Belongia, Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office, told a news conference that the shootings are being investigated as a hate crime.
“We are investigating this incident as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” Belongia said.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia described the attack as “pure evil.”
“It was directly a racially motivated hate crime from someone outside our community,” he said.
District Attorney John Flynn of Erie County, where Buffalo is located, said the suspect would be charged with first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence without parole.
Asked whether the shooter could face the death penalty at the federal level, US Attorney Trini Ross for the Western District of New York said: “All options are on the table as we move forward with the investigation.”
‘Very painful day’
Flynn said the shooter used an “assault weapon”—a term that may apply to types of rifles and shotguns in New York City—but did not specify which type.
A spokesperson for streaming service Twitch confirmed to AFP that the shooter used the service to broadcast the attack.
“We have investigated and confirmed that we have removed the section less than two minutes after the violence started,” the spokesperson said.
Mayor of Buffalo Byron Brown – which is located in western New York state along the US border with Canada – said the shooter “travelled for hours outside of this community to commit this crime.”
“This is a day of great pain for our community,” Brown said.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said US President Joe Biden was briefed about the “horrific shooting”.
Biden will “continue to receive updates as of evening and tomorrow as further information develops.” The President and First Lady are praying for those who are lost and for their loved ones,” Jean-Pierre said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the senior US senator from New York, said in a tweet: “We stand with the people of Buffalo.”
New York Governor Cathy Hochul also tweeted that she was monitoring the situation, and asked people in Buffalo to “avoid the area and follow the guidance of law enforcement and local officials.”
Last month, a “sniper-type” shooter opened fire in an upscale Washington neighborhood, wounding four people and taking their own lives.
Police suspected that the graphic video of that shooting, which circulated online shortly after, was filmed by the shooter himself, but have not confirmed the authenticity or that it was live-streamed.
Despite mass casualties and a nationwide wave of gun violence, several initiatives to reform gun rules in the US Congress have failed, leaving states and local councils to implement their own restrictions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its latest figures that the United States suffered 19,350 firearm homicides in 2020, a nearly 35 percent increase compared to 2019.
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