Ten people were killed and three others were injured when a man opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, officials said Saturday. Police said the gunman, who is now in custody, will be charged with murder in what authorities are calling a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference that at approximately 2:30 pm, an 18-year-old white man who is not from the area got out of his vehicle at a Tops Friendly Market. The man, who has not been identified, was “heavily armed” and had a helmet and tactical gear, Gramaglia said.
The suspect shot four people in the parking lot, killing three, before entering the store, he said. Once he entered the store, he found a “beloved” retired police officer working at the store as a security guard. The guard fired several shots that hit the suspect but did not hit him due to his tactical equipment, Gramaglia said. The suspect then killed the guard, who was not identified.
The suspect eventually returned to the front of the store, where he encountered police, Gramaglia said. He put a gun to his neck when he saw the police, but the police convinced him to drop the gun and surrender, Gramaglia said. He was then taken into custody.
Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office, said the case is being considered a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism. Officials did not elaborate on why they made that determination, but said the evidence indicates some “racial animosity.”
A law enforcement source told CBS News that the suspect allegedly shouted racial slurs during the shooting. A source also said the gunman had a racial slur written on his gun.
Officials said at the press conference that 11 of the 13 victims were African-American. Four, including one of the dead, were store employees.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who is from Buffalo, said the state has offered assistance to local officials and urged people to stay away from the area.
Tops Friendly Markets said in a statement that it was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the shooting.
“Our top priority remains the health and well-being of our associates and customers,” the supermarket said. “We appreciate the quick response from local authorities and are providing all available resources to assist authorities in the ongoing investigation.”
Pat Milton contributed reporting.