A gunman opened fire with an assault weapon in a Buffalo, New York, supermarket, killing at least ten people and wounding three others in a mass shooting that law enforcement officials are investigating as a racially motivated hate crime.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the suspect, 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron, drove from out of town to the Tops Friendly Markets store on Saturday (Sunday AEST). Mr Gramaglia said he was heavily armed and wearing tactical gear and a helmet.
A law enforcement official briefed on the inquiry has indicated the suspected shooter is from Conklin, New York, a suburb of Binghamton about 312 hours southeast of Buffalo.
According to Mr Gramaglia, the perpetrator first shot four persons in the parking lot, three of whom died. The gunman encountered a retired Buffalo police officer who works as a security guard inside the business.
Mr Gramaglia said the two exchanged fire and the security guy died. As he walked through the store, the guy shot a total of 13 individuals.
According to the police chief, when officers arrived, the man threatened to shoot himself in the neck before surrendering. According to Mr. Gramaglia, the suspect live-streamed the shooting on the internet.
According to the law enforcement official, a 180-page document posted online, which police believe was written by the suspected shooter, describes a conspiracy theory known as the "great replacement," which claims that political elites use immigration and other policies to reduce the white population.
The text also describes a planned mass shooting similar to the one that took place on Saturday, with the writer's goal of killing as many black people as possible.
The store where the incident occurred is located in a predominantly black Buffalo neighborhood. According to Mr Gramaglia, eleven of the victims shot were black and two were white.
“This is the worst nightmare that any community can face and we are hurting and we are seething right now as a community,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at the news conference.
The president of the NAACP civil rights organization, Derrick Johnson, called the shooting “absolutely devastating”.
“Our hearts are with the community and all who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy. Hate and racism have no place in America. We are shattered, extremely angered, and praying for the victims’ families and loved ones,” he added.
Police cordoned off the area, which was lined with bystanders, and surrounded the parking lot with yellow police tape.
Late Saturday, US President Joe Biden delivered a statement. "The first lady and I are praying for the victims and their families, and the people of Buffalo have our hearts," he stated.
President Biden called for a thorough investigation of the Buffalo shooting and said that the nation “must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.” Biden said “we don’t need anything else to state a clear moral truth: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation.”
"While law enforcement continues to investigate the motive for today's shooting, we don't need anything more to convey a simple moral truth: a racially motivated hate crime is repulsive to the fundamental fabric of this country," he continued. "We must do everything we can to put an end to domestic terrorism motivated by hatred."
Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, said she was “closely monitoring the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo”, her hometown. She said state officials had offered help to local authorities.
The shooting will be investigated as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism, according to Stephen Belongia, a special agent with the FBI's Buffalo field office.
Sheriff John Garcia of Erie County called the attack "pure wickedness." "It was a clear-cut racially motivated hate crime perpetrated by someone from outside our community," he said.
Mr. Flynn stated that law enforcement gathered information indicating a racist motive. When asked if the gunman may face the death penalty in federal court, US Attorney Trini Ross of the Western District of New York responded, "All options are on the table as we move forward with the investigation."