New developments have surfaced in the heartbreaking mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. The tragic shooting at the Tops supermarket has been deemed a "racially motivated hate crime" that resulted in the deaths of 10 innocent people and wounded three others.
Buffalo supermarket shooting update
Police have named the suspect as 18-year-old Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York. He was arraigned on Saturday on one count of first-degree murder and was ordered held without bail. The suspect appeared before a judge while wearing a paper gown since he is on suicide watch. He pleaded not guilty.
If he is found guilty, the suspect faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said his office is investigating terrorism charges.
A felony hearing has been scheduled for May 19.
Suspect was investigated by State Police for a high school threat in 2021
The suspect previously threatened to shoot up his high school in June 2021, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press.
"A school official reported that this very troubled young man had made statements indicating that he wanted to do a shooting, either at a graduation ceremony, or sometime after," the same government official familiar with the case told the Buffalo News.
"FBI officials confirmed the shooter allegedly wanted to commit a murder/suicide at the graduation of his high school in 2021 and was taken into custody by the New York State Police and given a mental evaluation," ABC News reported.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia confirmed that the then-17-year-old was given a mental health evaluation after the violent threat.
"Federal law bars people from owning a gun if a judge has determined they have a 'mental defect' or they have been forced into a mental institution — but an evaluation alone would not trigger the prohibition," ABC News reported.
No criminal charges were levied against the teenager.
Firearms used in the shooting were purchased legally
The suspect legally purchased a semi-automatic Bushmaster XM-15 rifle a couple of months ago from the Vintage Firearms shop in Endicott, New York, ABC News reported. The suspect allegedly purchased another gun at a Pennsylvania gun shop and was given another by his father.
Sources told the outlet that there was a pistol and a shotgun in the suspect's car.
Suspect may have had manifesto, 'planned the attack for months'
Authorities have yet to authenticate a 180-page manifesto said to have been written by the suspect. The purported manifesto contained anti-Semitic tropes claiming that the New York Times, CNN, and Fox News are run by Jews. The alleged manifesto also focused on "replacement theory," a white supremacist doctrine that non-whites will eventually replace white people.
A law enforcement official told the Associated Press that the suspect repeatedly visited websites that promulgated white supremacist ideologies and race-based conspiracy theories. The alleged shooter reportedly praised South Carolina church shooter Dylann Roof and New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant online.
The Daily Mail reported that the teenager "planned the attack for months before he drove for three hours to carry out the vile ambush that authorities are calling an act of 'violent extremism' motivated by race."
The suspect – who is white – allegedly targeted that specific Tops Friendly Market because the neighborhood is predominantly black. All 10 of the people who were killed were black.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia told reporters on Saturday, "This was pure evil. It was a straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community ... coming into our community and trying to inflict evil upon us."
The FBI is investigating the attack as a hate crime and as a "racially motivated violent extremism" case.
New York State Police's Hate Crimes Task Force has joined the investigation.
'Hero' security guard did everything he could to stop the shooter
The shooter was dressed in tactical gear, including a helmet with a camera attached that he allegedly used to livestream the carnage to Twitch – a video game streaming platform. Twitch reportedly removed the graphic content within two minutes.
The gunman fired at least 50 shots during the rampage, according to Gramaglia.
The gunman shot four people in the supermarket's parking lot – three of which died.
The shooter entered Tops supermarket and was confronted by a security guard Aaron Salter Jr. The two exchanged gunfire, but the shooter's body armor protected him. The suspect allegedly shot and killed Salter a retired police officer.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said of Salter, "He's a true hero. He went down fighting. He went towards the gunfire."
Yvette Mack, a frequent shopper at Tops, said of Salter, "He cared about the community. He looked after the store. He did a good job you know. He was very nice and respectable."
Other victims of the mass shooting include Ruth Whitfield, 86, Pearly Young, 77, Katherine Massey, 73, Deacon Heyward Patterson, 68, Celestine Chaney, and Roberta Drury, 32.