Ten people were killed and three others injured when a man opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, authorities said on Saturday. Police said the shooter, who is currently in police custody, will be charged with murder in what authorities are calling a hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism case.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference that around 2:30 p.m. an 18-year-old white male who is not from the area got out of his vehicle at a Tops Friendly Market. The man, who has not been identified, was “very heavily armed” and wearing tactical helmet and gear, Gramaglia said.
The suspect shot four people in the parking lot, killing three, before entering the store, he said. Once he entered the store, he met a “beloved” retired policeman who worked in the store as a security guard. The guard fired several shots that hit the suspect, but they didn’t hit him due to his tactical gear, Gramaglia said. The suspect then killed the guard, who has not been named.
The suspect eventually returned to the store, where he encountered police, Gramaglia said. He put a gun to his neck when he saw police, but police convinced him to put it down and turn himself in, Gramaglia said. He was then taken into custody.
Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Buffalo, said the case was considered a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism. Officials did not go into specifics about why they made the decision, but said the evidence points to some “racial animosity”.
A police source told CBS News that the suspect allegedly shouted racial slurs during the shooting. A source also said the shooter had a racial slur written on his gun.
Officials said at the press conference that 11 of the 13 victims were African Americans. Four, including one of the dead, were store employees.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a native of Buffalo, said the state has offered assistance to local officials and asked people to stay away from the area.
Tops Friendly Markets said in a statement it was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the shooting.
“Our top priority remains the health and well-being of our associates and customers,” the supermarket said. “We appreciate the prompt response from local law enforcement and are providing all available resources to assist authorities with the ongoing investigation.”
Pat Milton contributed reporting.