Shoppers, guard among 10 dead in Buffalo supermarket attack

CAROLYN THOMPSON
Associated Press
Payton Gendron appears during his arraignment in Buffalo City Court, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. Gendron was arraigned on first-degree murder charges and ordered detained without bail. Police officials said the 18-year-old was wearing body armor and military-style clothing when he pulled up and opened fire at people at a Tops Friendly Market. (Mark Mulville/The Buffalo News via AP)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Shoppers out on a weekend afternoon and a retired police officer working as a security guard were among the 10 shot and killed at a Buffalo supermarket by a white teenager who authorities say was motivated by racial hatred.

Police said Payton Gendron shot, in total, 11 Black people and two white people Saturday in a rampage at the Tops Friendly Market that the 18-year-old broadcast live before surrendering to authorities.

Among the dead was security guard Aaron Salter — a retired Buffalo police officer — who fired multiple shots at Gendron, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Saturday. A bullet hit the gunman's armor, but had no effect. Gendron then killed Salter, before hunting more victims.

Also killed was Ruth Whitfield, 86, the mother of retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield who told the Buffalo News that his “mother was a mother to the motherless.”

“She was a blessing to us all,” he added.

Katherine Massey, who had gone to the store to pick up some groceries, also was killed, according to the newspaper.

Flowers and candles lay outside the scene of a shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, N.Y., Sunday, May 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

It wasn't immediately clear why Gendron had traveled about 200 miles from his Conklin, New York, to Buffalo and that particular grocery store, located in a predominantly Black neighborhood, but screenshots purporting to be from the Twitch broadcast appear to show a racial epithet scrawled on the rifle used in the attack, as well as the number 14, a likely reference to a white supremacist slogan.

Erie County Sheriff John Garcia expressly called the shooting a hate crime.

“This was pure evil," Garcia said.

Twitch said in a statement that it ended Gendron’s transmission “less than two minutes after the violence started.”

A person walks past the scene of a shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, N.Y., Sunday, May 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The mass shooting further unsettled a nation wracked with racial tensions, gun violence and a spate of hate crimes. A day before, Dallas police had said they were investigating shootings in the city's Koreatown as hate crimes. The Buffalo attack came just a month after a shooting on a Brooklyn subway wounded 10 and just over a year after 10 were killed in a shooting at a Colorado supermarket.

Gendron, confronted by police in the store's vestibule, put a rifle to his neck but was convinced to drop it. He was arraigned later Saturday on a murder charge, appearing before a judge in a paper gown.

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that investigators were looking into whether he had posted a manifesto online. The official was not permitted to speak publicly on the matter and did so on the condition of anonymity.

Buffalo police declined to comment on the document that seemingly explicates the attacker’s racist, anti-immigrant and antisemitic beliefs, including a desire to drive all those not of European descent from the U.S. The document indicated he drew inspiration from the shooter who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.

— Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.