Buffalo shooter sought out location with high black population

The young man who shot dead 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket had studied the demographic composition of the area and wanted to attack a place where there is a high turnout of black people, and he arrived at the place at least a day before to reconnoiter the place. authorities reported on Sunday.

The individual shot a total of 11 black people and two white people on Saturday, authorities reported, adding that they handle the hypothesis that it was a racist attack.

“This individual came here with the express intention of killing as many black people as possible,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference Sunday.

The man, identified as Payton Gendron, threatened to shoot up his school last year, a law enforcement source told the AP. Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the young man, then 17, was taken for a psychiatric evaluation afterwards.

Federal authorities are still trying to confirm the authenticity of a 180-page manifesto that was posted online, describing the plans in detail and mentioning Payton Gendron by name.

The mass shooting further unsettled a nation wracked by racial tensions, gun violence and a spate of hate crimes.

The incident also prompted New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who is originally from Buffalo, to demand that tech companies acknowledge their responsibility for spreading racism.

Speaking to the ABC channel, Hochul said that the managers of the technology companies “have to be held accountable and promise us that they are taking all humanly possible measures to monitor this information.”

“The way these vicious ideas ferment on social media is something that is spreading like a virus,” the governor declared. Without control, she added, someone could try to mimic the attack in Buffalo.

Twitch said in a statement that it stopped Gendron’s stream “less than two minutes after the violence began.”

But images from the Twitch platform appear to show a racist slur etched into the rifle he used in the attack along with the number 14, a possible reference to a white supremacist slogan.

“This is too much. I’m trying to compose myself but I can’t. You can’t even go to the store in peace, this is crazy,” Yvonne Woodard, a Buffalo resident, told the AP.

A preliminary investigation determined that Gendron viewed white supremacist websites and racist conspiracy theories, and had studied the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand in 2019 and the massacre in Norway in 2011, the source said.

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It was unclear why Gendron traveled 200 miles (320 kilometers) from Conklin, New York, to Buffalo and to that particular supermarket in a heavily black area.

Police chief Gramaglia said Sunday that Gendron had been in town “at least the day before.”

“Apparently he came here to investigate the area, to reconnoiter the area before committing this evil and disgusting act,” Gramaglia said in an interview with ABC channel.

The young man had attracted police attention last year when he threatened to shoot up his Susquehanna High School during graduation time, the informant said.

New York State Police officers responded to the school in Conklin on June 8, 2021, upon receiving a report that a 17-year-old student had made threats.

The student, police said, was taken into custody and taken to a hospital for evaluation. The police press release does not mention the student’s name.

Gendron, confronted by police in the store’s lobby, put the rifle to his neck, but officers convinced him to drop it. He was indicted later Saturday on a murder charge and appeared before a judge in paper overalls.

Federal agents interviewed the young man’s parents and searched several properties, a police source told the AP on Sunday. The parents are cooperating, a source reported.

Among those killed was Aaron Salter, a retired police officer and security guard, who shot Gendron multiple times, Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia said. A bullet hit the assailant’s armor, but did not penetrate it. Gendron then killed Salter before shooting the other victims.

Also among the dead was Ruth Whitfield, 86, the mother of Buffalo Fire Chief Garnell Whitfield, who, speaking to the Buffalo News, praised her mother as “a blessing to all.”

Another of the victims was Katherine Massey, who had gone to the store to shop, the newspaper said.

“We pray for their families. But after we pray, after we get up off our knees, we have to demand change, we have to demand justice,” New York State Attorney General Letitia James said at a church ceremony in Buffalo on Sunday morning.

This was an act of domestic terrorism, plain and simple,” he added.

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