The suspect in the deadly supermarket shooting in Buffalo, New York, was an 18-year-old who drove more than three hours to a grocery store and shot 13 people, killing 10, authorities say.
Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, was identified Saturday in the deadly attack and charged with one-count of murder. Officials said they would weigh additional charges in the coming days.
However, authorities believe the assault was an intentional attack on members of a predominantly Black upstate New York neighborhood. Eleven of the 13 people who were shot were Black.
Meanwhile, federal agents on Sunday were working to confirm the authenticity of a 180-page manifesto that was posted online, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Sunday.
The manifesto, which focuses on racist, anti-immigrant and antisemitic beliefs, detailed the plot and identified Gendron by name as the gunman, the official said. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.
Here’s what we know about the suspect:
Suspect had threatened his high school
Gendron threatened an attack at his high school last year, resulting in a referral for a mental health evaluation, a law enforcement official told USA TODAY on Sunday. The incident was reviewed by state authorities at the time. The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly, said the suspect’s parents were cooperating with authorities.
Gendron graduated from the Susquehanna Valley Central School District in 2021. District officials declined to comment on the alleged shooter’s ties to the school, “in light of the extremely sensitive nature of this matter.”
According to an unconfirmed statement by the shooter, he was enrolled in the engineering sciences program at SUNY Broome Community College as recently as the spring 2022 semester.
However, SUNY Broome officials said he was not currently enrolled at the school. The final day of classes at the Town of Dickinson community college is Tuesday.
What was the motive?
Early investigations point to a racist motive in the killings.
“This individual came here with the express purpose of taking as many Black lives as he could,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference Sunday.
U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., a Buffalo native, said the evidence gathered points to an “explicit act of racially motivated violence.”
Citing briefings with law enforcement officials, Higgins said the suspect carried an assault weapon inscribed with a racial epithet.
“I was on site for the last three hours, and I listened carefully to what the FBI, police, the district attorney and the U.S. attorney had to say,” Higgins told USA TODAY. “There is no doubt this was a racially motivated attack.”
He said authorities were reviewing a graphic manifesto that referenced other racially motivated attackers, including an avowed white supremacist who killed nine people in 2015 at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
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How did the shooter get the gun?
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the suspect acquired the rifle used in the attack legally but the weapon had been modified with illegal magazines. New York bars the sale of any magazine that has a capacity of more than 10 rounds.
She said law enforcement was working to determine where the magazines were acquired but noted they could be purchased as close as Pennsylvania. She didn’t elaborate on how many bullets the magazines were able to hold.
Gendron was also protected by tactical gear, including body armor, as he assaulted the grocery store.
Suspect arraigned on murder charge
Gendron was arraigned Saturday evening before Buffalo City Court Judge Craig Hannah on one count of first-degree murder. Officials said they will weigh additional charges in the coming days. Gendron’s attorney, Brian Parker, requested that his client undergo a psychiatric examination. Hannah ordered that Gendron be held without bail. He will return to court for a felony hearing Thursday morning.
Where is the suspect from?
Police agencies on Sunday closed the street where Gendron reportedly lived with his parents as law enforcement searched the residence. The 17-acre property was purchased by Pamela and Paul Gendron for $116,000 in 2002.
More than 95% of Conklin’s 5,000 residents are white, according to 2020 census data. Black residents comprise about 0.6% of the town’s population.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson; USA TODAY; The Associated Press