A gunman who was motivated by racism opened fire at a grocery store in Buffalo on Saturday, killing 10 people and wounding three others, authorities said.
The man was heavily armed and wearing tactical gear, police said during a news conference on Saturday evening. He emerged from his car and shot four people in the parking lot, police said, killing three of them.
He then went into the store and continued shooting, exchanging fire with a security guard, whom he killed, and then hitting several customers, the police said. He was finally taken into custody by police officers after putting his gun to his own neck and threatening to shoot himself.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said the gunman was motivated by racism. “This was pure evil,” he said at a news conference. “This was straight-up racially motivated hate crime.” The gunman was white, the police said, and the attack took place in a largely Black section of the city.
The police said 11 of the victims of the shooting were Black; two were white.
The mayor, Byron Brown, said the shooting had shattered the city, as innocent people going about their normal routines had their “lives snuffed out in an instant for no reason.”
“This is the worst nightmare that any community can face and we are hurting and we are seething right now as a community,” the mayor said.
The gunman was armed with an assault weapon and wore body armor, the police said, and he had a video camera affixed to his helmet that was streaming the shooting live. In the minutes and hours after the shooting, gruesome video and images that appeared to have been captured by the gunman circulated on social media. In the images, a racial slur appears to have been written on the barrel of his weapon.
The U.S. attorney in Buffalo, Trini E. Ross, said her office would investigate the killings as hate crimes.
Jaye Emmons, a 49-year-old social worker who lives a block and a half from Tops, was watching a YouTube video about a romantic breakup between two celebrities when “all of a sudden there were a tremendous amount of shots,” she said in a phone interview from a nail salon across the street from Tops. Ms. Emmons estimated that she heard 60 shots.
“What I heard was massive – bullets shooting aimlessly, firing out of a military weapon,” she said.
She added that she could tell that the shooting came from Jefferson Avenue, the location of the Tops outlet.
She said that a relative had visited the site of the shooting and came back saying he had learned that the gunman had started to fire in the parking lot outside the grocery store, entered the store and continued firing, then exited, at which point he was handcuffed by the authorities.