Buffalo shooter ‘planned to attack more than one store’

US federal authorities looking into hate crime charges

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The white gunman who killed 10 black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, intended to keep killing if he had escaped the scene, the police commissioner said on Monday.

Payton Gendron, 18, had planned to attack a second store, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told CNN.

“He was going to get in his car and continue to drive down Jefferson Avenue and continue doing the same thing,” the commissioner said.

The commissioner’s account was similar to portions of a racist 180-page document, purportedly written by Mr Gendron, that described an assault that was intended to terrorise all non-white and non-Christian people, and to force them to leave the country. Federal authorities are working to assess the document’s authenticity.

Mr Gendron travelled about 320 kilometres from his home in Conklin, New York, to commit the attack, police said. Authorities said he wielded an AR-15-style rifle, wore body armour and used a helmet camera to stream the bloodbath on the internet.

Federal prosecutors said they are contemplating federal hate crime charges in the case.

Former Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield Jr, who lost his mother, Ruth Whitfield, in the shooting, asked how the country could allow its history of racist killings to repeat itself.

“We’re not just hurting. We’re angry. We’re mad. This shouldn’t have happened. We do our best to be good citizens, to be good people. We believe in God. We trust him. We treat people with decency, and we love even our enemies,” Mr Whitfield said at a news conference with the civil rights lawyer Ben Crump.

“And you expect us to keep doing this over and over and over again – over again, forgive and forget,” he said. “While people we elect and trust in offices around this country do their best not to protect us, not to consider us equal.”

Mr Whitfield’s mother was killed after making her daily visit to her husband in a nursing home.

“How do we tell him that she’s gone? Much less that she’s gone at the hands of a white supremacist? Of a terrorist? An evil person who is allowed to live among us?” Mr Whitfield said.

Authorities said that in addition to the 10 black people killed, three people were wounded: one black, two white.

Investigators said Mr Gendron researched the neighbourhood’s demographics and conducted reconnaissance before the attack, investigators said. Mayor Byron Brown said the gunman “came here with the express purpose of taking as many black lives as he possibly could”.

Most of the victims were elderly. The same was true for several of the nine black people killed in 2015 in a racist attack at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Portions of the video circulating online showed the gunman killing shoppers in less than a minute.

At one point, he trains his weapon on a white person cowering behind a checkout counter, but says, “Sorry!” and doesn’t shoot.

Screenshots purporting to be from the broadcast appear to show a racial slur against black people scrawled on his rifle.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the US Secretary of Homeland Security, told CNN the attack was not being investigated as a domestic terrorism attack.

“It is being investigated, as the FBI articulated, as a hate crime. The term domestic terrorism is a legal term and because the investigation is ongoing, I won't employ that term,” he said.

Mr Gendron surrendered to police who confronted him in the supermarket’s entrance. He has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder.

Associated Press contributed reporting

Updated: May 16, 2022, 7:48 PM
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