A heavily armed 18-year-old white man opened fire at a supermarket in a largely Black section of Buffalo, killing 10 people and injuring three more, authorities said, in a racist attack that turned a sunny Saturday into one of the darkest days in the city’s history.
The suspect, identified in court as Payton S. Gendron, of Conklin, New York, pleaded not guilty Saturday evening to first-degree murder, a charge that could lead to life imprisonment without parole.
Gendron was armed with an assault weapon and wore body armor, police said, and he had a video camera affixed to his helmet that streamed the shooting live online.
The attack appeared to have been inspired by earlier massacres that were motivated by racial hatred.
A law enforcement official said investigators were reviewing a manifesto believed to have been posted online by Gendron. In video and images of the massacre that appeared to have been captured by the camera affixed to his helmet, an anti-Black racial slur can be seen on the barrel of his weapon.
Eleven of the people shot were Black, and two were white, authorities said.
“It was a straight up racially motivated hate crime,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said at a news conference Saturday.
The massacre began around 2:30 p.m., authorities said, when Gendron, who had driven several hours from Conklin, stepped out of his car dressed in tactical gear and body armor and carrying an assault weapon.
He shot four people in the parking lot, three of them fatally, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. When Gendron entered the store and continued shooting, he encountered a security guard — a retired Buffalo police officer who returned fire. But Gendron was wearing heavy metal plating; he killed the guard and continued into the store, firing on shoppers and employees.
When Buffalo police officers confronted Gendron, he put a gun to his neck, but patrolmen persuaded him to surrender, Gramaglia said.
The U.S. attorney in Buffalo, Trini Ross, said her office would investigate the killings as hate crimes.
Officials said the camera that the gunman wore was used to broadcast the attack on Twitch, a livestreaming site. Twitch said it had taken the channel offline.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.By Alex Traub, Troy Closson and Kellen Browning