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15 May, 2022 03:39

Supermarket massacre probed as hate crime

Teenage suspect pleads not guilty after mass shooting livestreamed on Twitch
Supermarket massacre probed as hate crime

An 18-year-old suspect has been detained without bail on first-degree murder charges following a mass shooting at a supermarket in New York State, that authorities have described as a “hate crime” and “racially motivated violent extremism.”

The heavily-armed shooter wearing a bulletproof vest and a tactical helmet first opened fire at a parking lot and then inside a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo around 2:30pm on Saturday, killing 10 shoppers and employees, and injuring three others  – all while livestreaming the massacre online.

When police arrived at the scene and confronted the gunman, he reportedly put the rifle to his neck, but was eventually persuaded to drop the weapon and surrender.

Authorities said 11 of those he shot were black and two were white, with Erie County Sheriff John Garcia describing the attack as “pure evil” and a “straight up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community.”

The suspect was identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron from the New York State town of Conklin, about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo when he appeared before court later on Saturday. He was charged with first degree murder and could face life in prison with no parole under New York State laws. The next court hearing was scheduled for next week after he pleaded not guilty. 

Multiple federal agencies, including the FBI and ATF are assisting local authorities in their investigation.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul called the attacker a “white supremacist who just perpetrated a hate crime on an innocent community,” expressing “sincere hope that this individual… will spend the rest of his days behind bars.”

US President Joe Biden addressed the tragedy in a written statement on Saturday night, saying that while there’s still much to learn about the motivation for the shooting – the initial information was enough to “state a clear moral truth.”

“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America,” Biden said. “We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”