At least 10 people have been killed and three more injured in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, which authorities say was a “racially motivated hate crime”.
An 18-year-old white male suspect is in custody, police said. The gunman streamed the attack live on social media, authorities said.
The gunman, dressed in military uniforms, body armor and a tactical helmet, shot four people in the parking lot of a Tops supermarket around 2:30 p.m., killing three. He entered the store where he was confronted by a retired Buffalo police officer who was working security, police said.
The guard shot and punched the suspect, but to no effect because of the bulletproof vests, police said.
The gunman then went on to shoot another nine people inside the store, police said. He threatened to shoot himself before dropping his gun and surrendering to police, authorities said.
Of the 13 victims shot, 11 were African American and two white, authorities said.
Four of the victims of the shooting were store employees, while the rest were customers, authorities said. According to a law enforcement officer, the dead included a police officer who was working at security.
Three victims suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, authorities said.
The scene is no longer active and no other suspects are open, a law enforcement official said.
According to Governor Kathy Hochul, the weapon was obtained legally, but edited with illegal magazines.
“There is no depth to the outrage I feel right now,” she said during a briefing on Saturday.
The suspect — identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York — was charged with first-degree murder and ordered to be held without bail Saturday night, according to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. His office is also investigating allegations of terrorism, he said.
The suspect traveled several hours from a New York county to the store in Buffalo, authorities said.
“This is the worst nightmare a community could face,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference on Saturday.
The FBI is investigating the attack separately as a hate crime and as racially motivated violent extremism.
Early indications are that the gunman may have held extremist beliefs cultivated online, law enforcement sources told ABC News.
Investigators are looking at multiple online posts that may be associated with the gunman, including praise for South Carolina church gunner Dylann Roof and New Zealand mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant, according to the sources.
“This was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia told reporters. “It was an outright racial hate crime by someone outside of our community… who came into our community and tried to harm us.”
Flynn said there is evidence “pointing to some racial hostility,” but will not elaborate on this point in the investigation.
Hochul said she directed the New York State Police’s Hate Crimes Task Force to assist with the investigation.
A home associated with the suspect in Conklin, a town near Binghamton in Broome County, was searched Saturday night by the FBI and New York State Police, according to law enforcement officers and eyewitnesses. Hochul confirmed at a news conference on Saturday that a home in Broome County was being searched.
Authorities did not specify on which social media platform the suspect allegedly livestreamed the shooting. But after the attack, live video game streaming platform Twitch said it had indefinitely suspended a user over the Buffalo shooting.
“Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against violence of any kind and works quickly to respond to all incidents,” a Twitch spokesperson said in a statement. “The user has been suspended from our service indefinitely and we are taking all appropriate measures, including monitoring accounts rebroadcasting this content.”
The company said it has removed the stream within two minutes of the violence beginning and is monitoring Twitch for any restreams of the content or related content.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz also tweeted Saturday afternoon that he had been “aware of an active multiple shooting event” at the supermarket.
“A terrible day in history [of] our community,” Poloncarz said in a statement. “Like too many communities in our nation, we have been struck by the horror [of] a mass shooting. My thoughts are with the deceased and their families at this terrible time.”
President Joe Biden has been briefed on the shooting, his press secretary said.
“He will continue to receive updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as more information comes in,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “The President and the First Lady pray for those who died and for their loved ones.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland was also notified of the incident.
“The Justice Department is investigating this case as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism. The Justice Department is committed to a thorough and prompt investigation into this shooting and to seek justice for these innocent victims,” the statement said.
Tops Friendly Markets said in a statement it was “shocked and saddened” by the shooting and expressed its condolences to the victims and their families.
“We appreciate the prompt response of local law enforcement officers and are making all available resources available to assist authorities with the ongoing investigation,” the Amherst, New York-based supermarket chain said.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson called the organization “crushed” and “extremely angry” by the incident.
“This is absolutely devastating. Our hearts are with the community and with everyone affected by this terrible tragedy,” Johnson said. “Hatred and racism have no place in America.”
Matt Foster and Luke Barr of ABC News contributed to this report.
This is a story in development. Come back for updates.