An 18-year-old male suspect is in custody following a mass shooting on Saturday at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, where a gunman shot at least 13 people, killing 10 in what police have called a “racially motivated hate crime.”
The suspect wore “tactical gear” and livestreamed the shooting, according to officials. He reportedly posted a manifesto online, according to the Associated Press, citing investigators who cautioned that the investigation is in a preliminary state.
The suspect arrived at the supermarket after 2.30pm ET and shot four people in the parking lot, killing three, before going into the store and firing multiple rounds.
Erie County sheriff John Garcia called the shooting “pure evil” and a “straight up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community.”
“This is the worst nightmare that any community can face,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said during a press conference on Saturday evening. “We are hurting and we are seething.”
Among the victims, 11 of the 13 victims of the shooting are Black, officials said on Saturday.
In addition to the 10 people who were killed, three have sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
The suspected shooter was not from Buffalo but “traveled hours” from another county in the state to “perpetrate this crime on the people of Buffalo,” according to the mayor.
One of the victims was a retired Buffalo police officer working as a security guard in the store, who fired at the suspect but failed to stop him because the alleged shooter was wearing body armour.
Two officers later persuaded the suspect to drop his weapons and surrender.
A Tops Markets employee who identified himself as Will G told The Buffalo News that he hid with a group of people in a supermarket walk-in cooler as gunfire rang out in the store.
“I just heard shots. Shots and shots and shots,” he told the outlet. “It sounded like things were falling over. … I hid. I just hid. I wasn’t going to leave that room.”
The market at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street in Buffalo – the second-largest city in New York – is in a largely residential, predominantly Black neighbourhood, roughly three miles north of the city’s downtown area.
A statement from Tops Market said the company is “shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
US Attorney Merrick Garland has been briefed on the shooting, according to a Justice Department spokesperson.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she is “closely monitoring” the incident and has advised residents to avoid the area.
A statement from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office offers “condolences to the family and friends” of victims. New York Attorney General Letitia James said “all of New York is with Buffalo after this tragic mass shooting.”
US Rep Brian Higgins, who represents Buffalo in Congress, said he is “horrified” by reports and has offed federal support to local authorities if necessary.
Local police, as well as New York state police and the FBI are investigating the shooting.
The alleged shooter could face up to life in prison on murder charges, according to officials.