What we know about the Buffalo mass shooting and investigation
The suspect, identified as Payton S. Gendron, an 18-year-old white man, surrendered to police. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder, according to Buffalo District Court Chief Judge Craig Hannah. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he plans to file additional charges.
The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism, said Stephen Belongia, FBI special agent in charge of the Buffalo field office.
Here’s what we know about the shooting and the investigation.
How did the filming go
When the suspect arrived at the Tops Friendly Markets supermarket on Jefferson Avenue around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, he was “very heavily armed,” according to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.
“He had tactical gear, he had a tactical helmet, he had a camera that he was live streaming what he was doing.”
The suspect first opened fire in the store’s parking lot, authorities said, shooting four people. Three of those people died while another is expected to survive, Gramaglia said.
The suspect entered the store and began shooting at customers, police said. A security guard inside the store, who was a retired Buffalo police officer, shot the suspect. But because the suspect was wearing heavy armour, the bullets had no effect, Gramaglia said.
The suspect shot and killed the security guard and continued to push his way through the store, the commissioner said. When police arrived, the suspect put his gun to his neck, but then dropped the gun and removed some of his gear, he added.
He surrendered and was transported to Buffalo Police Headquarters.
During his arrest, the suspect made very disturbing statements describing his motive and state of mind following his arrest, according to an official close to the investigation. The alleged shooter made it clear he was targeting the black community during statements, according to the official.
Warrants are being obtained for the suspect’s home, vehicle, social media platforms, computer, phone and other digital technology, Gramaglia said. The investigation shows that Gendron acted alone in the shooting, he added.
What we know about the victims
Four of those shot were store employees, he said. Three suffered “non-fatal injuries”, he said. The fourth, security guard Aaron Salter, a retired Buffalo police lieutenant, was killed while trying to arrest the suspect. Mayor Brown called him “a hero, who tried to protect people in the store, tried to save lives, and in the process lost his life.”
Among them was Geraldine Talley, 62, who was shopping with her fiancé when gunfire broke out, her niece Lakesha Chapman told CNN. Talley was at the front of the store, Chapman said, but her fiancé had gone for orange juice. He got away with it unscathed.
Chapman’s “Auntie Gerri” has always been “the life of the party,” she said. “She was just a lover. I mean she didn’t meet a stranger, and that’s why it hurts so much,” Chapman said.
Heyward Patterson, a 67-year-old taxi driver, was waiting for passengers outside the supermarket when he was shot dead, according to his nephew, Terrell Clark.
Patterson — who liked to tell jokes and sing in church — “took pride in helping people,” Clark said. “And if the person had little or no money, he drove it anyway. He had a big heart.”
The suspect broadcast the violence live
Live-streaming platform Twitch confirmed on Saturday that the suspect used his platform to live-stream during the attack, saying in a statement the video was removed less than two minutes after the violence began.
The company was “devastated” to learn of the shooting, she said, and the user “has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring any account reposting this. content”.
Investigators examine a document allegedly written by the suspect
Authorities at the state, local and federal levels continue to investigate the shooting and motive, but have previously said they believe it was racially motivated.
“The evidence we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime,” Gramaglia said. “He is someone who has hatred in his heart, soul and mind.”
Garcia, the Erie County Sheriff, likewise said the shooting was a “racially motivated hate crime committed by someone outside of our community”, describing it as “pure evil”.
One piece of evidence can be a 180-page document allegedly written by the suspect and posted online before the shooting. The document, independently obtained by CNN shortly after the massacre and before authorities released the suspect’s name, was allegedly written by a person claiming to be Payton Gendron confessing to the attack.
The author attributes most of his beliefs to the Internet, describes himself as a fascist, a white supremacist and an anti-Semite.
The suspect reportedly said he purchased ammunition for some time, but did not take planning for the attack seriously until January. The author also writes about his perceptions of the decreasing size of the white population and claims of ethnic and cultural replacement of whites.
Along with tirades about his false belief that white Americans were being “replaced” by people of other races, the document included pages upon pages listing the equipment and clothing he planned to wear, body armor military style to the brand of his underwear.
The document also included a minute-by-minute outline of the suspect’s plan. The author drew a color-coded map of the interior of the store, laying out how he planned to “shoot all black people”. It is unclear to what extent the shooter’s attack followed the plan stated in the document.
Asked at Saturday’s press conference why authorities are calling the mass shooting a hate crime, Flynn, the district attorney, said investigators have “some evidence” that “points to a certain racial animosity”.
Further investigation over the weekend also revealed that Gendron made a “widespread threat” while attending Susquehanna Valley Central High School in June 2021, Gramaglia said.
Sheriff Garcia told CNN on Monday that the suspect was visited last year by New York State police after completing a high school project on murder-suicides.
According to Garcia, concerns about alleged mental health issues “came to light” after she turned in the post-graduation project.
“State police arrived at his house this time last year,” Garcia said. “He stayed in a facility – I don’t know if it was a hospital or a mental health facility – for a day and a half.”
Additionally, Gendron was in Buffalo on Friday, Gramaglia said, and authorities determined some locations he visited prior to the shooting, adding that he did a reconnaissance at the Tops Friendly Markets store.
Suspect was radicalized by message boards
In the document, the suspect reportedly detailed how he radicalized himself by reading online chat rooms, while describing the attack as terrorism and himself as a white supremacist.
He wrote that he had “moved further to the right” politically over the past three years.
The document includes dozens of pages of racist and anti-Semitic screeds, including language that appears to be copied from the New Zealand shooter’s own writings.
CNN’s Casey Tolan, Artemis Moshtaghian, Shimon Prokupecz and Brian Stelter contributed to this report.