shocked residents of BuffaloNew York state, gathered Sunday for vigils and church services to mourn the 10 people shot to death by an alleged white supremacist teenager in an act described by authorities as “domestic terrorism, pure and simple.”
The shooter, identified as Payton Gendron, 18, was arrested at the scene of the tragedya grocery store in a majority black neighborhood, after police responded to emergency calls.
Gendron had driven to Buffalo, on the edge of Lake Erie – on the Canadian border – from his hometown of Conklin, more than 200 miles away.police said.
The young man was processed on Saturday night for a single count of first degree murder and being held without bond, the Erie County District Attorney’s office said.
He was wearing a bulletproof vest, he was carrying an assault rifle., according to the local Police Department, which specified that of the 10 dead and three injured, 11 were black. Also, Gendron He wore a helmet equipped with a camera to broadcast his crime live on the internet.
Execution “military style”
Residents gathered outside the store in question for the vigil, while New York Governor Kathy Hochul, State Attorney General Letitia James and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown attended a church service. True Bethel Baptist of the city.
With moods ranging from anger to sadness, speakers denounced this latest eruption of racist violence and the easy availability of high-powered weapons, something that has become a sadly familiar scene across America.
Hochul, herself a Buffalo native, described the crime as a “military-style execution” (said the shooter was carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle) and stressed that racist messages “spread like wildfire.”
Thus, the governor asked the officials of the two political parties in Congress to “make sure that these people return to their holes and stay there.”
Speaking on ABC television, he described social media as “instruments of this evil” and said it allowed racist themes to “spread like a virus”.
President Joe Biden deplored the attack in a note: “Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant ideology of white nationalism, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America.”
The attack stirred up memories of some of the worst racist attacks in the country’s recent history, including the murder of nine worshipers at a black church in South Carolina by a young white man in 2015, and the attack on a white man in Texas in 2019 that claimed 23 lives, most of them Hispanic.
The shooter shot four people in the store’s parking lot before entering the store. Three of them died.
Among those killed inside the store was a retired police officer who worked as an armed security guard. He was able to fire several shots at the assailant before being shot, police spokesmen said.
When officers arrived, the attacker put the gun to his neck, threatening to shoot himself, but was eventually dissuaded and surrendered.
mother and missionary
The victims were common customers and store workers.
One, according to a post on Twitter, was a 77-year-old “mother, grandmother and missionary” who “loved to sing, dance and be with her family” and who for 25 years had set up a weekly pantry to feed the poor.
At a Sunday vigil at Buffalo’s Elim Christian Fellowship Church, Pastor T. Anthony Bronner urged both prayer and political action in response to the attack.
“Some of us are very angry this morning”the pastor said, but “we respond with our prayer, and we respond with our feet.”
The shooting is being investigated as a “hate crime” and a “racially motivated violent extremism case,” Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in New York, told reporters. Buffalo.
Local media linked the shooter to a 180-page manifesto that outlined a white supremacist ideology and laid out a plan to target a primarily black neighborhood.
In addition to mentioning the South Carolina church shooting, the shooter He claimed he had been “inspired” by the gunman who killed 51 people at a New Zealand mosque in March 2019.
A semi-automatic weapon used in Saturday’s shooting also had a racial epithet written on the barrel.according to the local newspaper The Buffalo News, citing a local official.
If the attacker is convicted, he would face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
In a video call to the True Bethel Baptist Church, New York Senator Charles Schumer called racism “America’s poison” and bluntly stated: “We must address the scourge of gun violence and finally ban weapons of war in our streets”.
But in the face of strong pro-gun lobbying, previous efforts by the US Congress to toughen gun laws have generally fallen short, even after some of the most tragic shootings.
The United States suffered 19,350 firearm homicides in 2020, nearly 35% more than in 2019, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.