The 18-year-old man accused of storming a Buffalo, New York, supermarket Saturday and killing 10 and injuring three others planned to continue his bloody rampage down the street before he was stopped, police said.
Suspect Payton Gendron livestreamed the moment he opened fire in the parking lot of Tops Friendly Market at around 2:30 p.m. and continued shooting inside the store while dressed in tactical gear, police said. He was ultimately arrested at the scene.
Police are calling the attack a hate crime as 11 of 13 people who were shot were Black — and there could have been more victims if he hadn’t been stopped.
“It appeared that his plans were to drive out of here and continue driving down Jefferson Avenue looking to shoot more Black people as he could and possibly go to another store location,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Police said in a news conference Sunday that the suspect “did some reconnaissance on the area and in the store,” before the shooting.
The suspect also appeared to be active in online gun communities and posted extremist views. Senior law enforcement officials said they believe he wrote a 180-page “manifesto” posted online that cites a racist conspiracy theory frequently promoted by white supremacists.
The document claims the suspect chose Buffalo because it was the city with the highest number of Black people in his vicinity.
He had also been investigated by New York State Police last year for making a threatening statement in June about wanting to carry out a shooting, a senior law enforcement official said.
The suspect was a minor at the time, the official said. He was transported to a hospital for a mental health evaluation and was not charged with a crime.
Speaking about that previous violent threat, Gramaglia said Sunday: “Nothing picked up on the state police intelligence, nothing picked up on the FBI intelligence.”
Gramaglia said the supermarket attack was a hate crime.
“The evidence we uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime,” Gramaglia said. “It will be prosecuted as a hate crime. This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind.”
Speaking at a vigil Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke via video link and recalled how the Tops grocery store had “become a neighborhood hub and gathering place.”
He called the grocery store a “much-needed oasis” in a food desert.
The victims were six women and four men ranging in age from 32 to 86, officials said. A community leader and a retired Buffalo police officer were among the lives lost.
Several weapons were taken from the scene with one appearing to have disturbing writing on it with “the N-word written or etched,” law enforcement sources said. One firearm also referred to reparations, according to photos of the weapons that a law enforcement source confirmed belonged to the suspect.
The assault-style rifle used in the attack was legally purchased in New York, a senior law enforcement official said. A hunting rifle and a shotgun were also found at the scene.
In addition to the guns, the suspect had multiple 30-round magazines on him, the official said, which are illegal in New York state. It’s unclear where the suspect obtained the 30-round magazines.
Gendron, of Conklin, New York, was arraigned Saturday evening in Buffalo City Court on one count of murder in the first degree, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office said.
He was remanded without bail and a felony hearing was scheduled for Thursday morning, according to the office.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said the suspect was being monitored on suicide watch and will be given mental health services as needed.