BUFFALO: A gunman with a rifle and body armor opened fire at a convenience store in Buffalo, New York, killing at least 10 people before being arrested Saturday afternoon, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.
Details on the number of additional people shot at the Tops Friendly Market and their terms were not immediately available. The two officials were not allowed to speak publicly about the case and did so on condition of anonymity.
Investigators believe the man was livestreaming the shooting and were investigating whether he posted a manifesto online, the official said. The official warned that the investigation was in its early stages and authorities had not yet discovered a clear motive, but were investigating whether the shooting was racially motivated.
The grocery store is located in a predominantly black neighborhood about 3 miles north of downtown Buffalo. The area is primarily residential, with a Family Dollar store and a fire station near the store.
Buffalo police confirmed in a tweet that the gunman was in custody but did not identify the suspect. Police officials and a spokesperson for the supermarket chain did not immediately respond to messages from the AP asking for comment.
Witnesses reported that the gunman was wearing military-style clothing in addition to the body armor, one of the officials said
Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the gunman was about to leave. They described him as a white man in his late teens or early twenties with full camouflage, a black helmet and what appeared to be a rifle.
“He was standing there with the gun to his chin. We were like, what the hell is going on? Why does this boy have a gun to his face?’ said Kephart. He fell to his knees. “He tore off his helmet, dropped his gun and was tackled by the police.”
Police closed the block, lined by onlookers, and yellow police tapes surrounded the entire parking lot. Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were on the scene late Saturday afternoon, gathered in a parking lot across the street from the Tops store, expecting to address the media.
More than two hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews waited outside the store, behind the police tape.
“We would like to know the status of my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was in there with her fiancé, they broke up and went to different aisles,” she said. “A bullet barely missed him. He could hide in a freezer, but he couldn’t get to my aunt and doesn’t know where she is. We’d like to hear from both sides if she’s okay.”
Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was “closely watching the shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo”, her hometown. She said state officials have offered assistance to local authorities. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office said on social media that it had instructed all available personnel to assist the Buffalo Police Department.
Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said.
The shooting came just over a year after a March 2021 attack on a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado that killed 10 people. Investigators have not released any information as to why they believe the man charged in that attack was the supermarket’s target.