White supremacist who killed 10 in mass shooting in US is 'sick, demented individual'

15 May 2022, 18:40 | Updated: 15 May 2022, 19:00

The 18-year-old livestreamed the mass shooting
The 18-year-old livestreamed the mass shooting. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The white supremacist who killed 10 people and injured three others in a mass shooting at a supermarket in the US is a "sick, demented individual who was fuelled by a daily diet of hate", officials have said.

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The 18-year-old suspect - identified as Payton Gendron - used a helmet camera to livestream the attack in Buffalo, New York, on mostly black shoppers and workers on Saturday, police said.

Authorities are calling the shooting an act of "violent extremism" motivated by racial hatred.

For at least two minutes, the gunman broadcast the shooting live on the streaming platform Twitch before the service ended his transmission.

Police said he shot 11 black victims and two who were white before surrendering to police.

Later, he appeared before a judge in a paper medical gown and was arraigned on murder charges.

Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, said the attack was committed by a "sick, demented individual who was fuelled by a daily diet of hate" and is now on suicide watch.

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The 18-year-old white supremacist appeared before a judge in a paper medical gown and was arraigned on murder charges.
The 18-year-old white supremacist appeared before a judge in a paper medical gown and was arraigned on murder charges. Picture: Alamy

Speaking near the scene of the attack, New York governor Kathy Hochul said: "It is my sincere hope that this individual, this white supremacist who just perpetrated a hate crime on an innocent community, will spend the rest of his days behind bars. And heaven help him in the next world as well."

It was not immediately clear why Gendron travelled to Buffalo from Conklin - about 200 miles south-east - to stage the assault but a clip which is believed to be from his Twitch feed showed him arriving at the supermarket in his car.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the gunman shot four people outside the store, three fatally.

Inside, security guard Aaron Salter, who was a retired Buffalo police officer, fired multiple shots.

A bullet hit Gendron but he was wearing a bulletproof vest and it had no effect, the commissioner added.

He then killed the guard before stalking through the store shooting other victims.

After being confronted by police, the suspect put the gun to his own neck before officers talked him into dropping the weapon.

Police working at the scene of the mass shooting
Police working at the scene of the mass shooting. Picture: Alamy

A source said investigators are looking into whether Gendron had posted a manifesto online.

Buffalo police declined to comment on the document, circulated widely online, that purports to outline the attacker's racist, anti-immigrant and antisemitic beliefs, including a desire to drive all people not of European descent from the US.

It said he drew inspiration from the man who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told a news conference: "This is the worst nightmare that any community can face, and we are hurting and we are seething right now.

"The depth of pain that families are feeling and that all of us are feeling right now cannot even be explained."

At an earlier news briefing, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia called the shooting a hate crime.

"This was pure evil," he said. "It was a straight up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community, outside of the city of good neighbours... coming into our community and trying to inflict that evil upon us."

US President Joe Biden said in a statement that he and the First Lady were praying for the victims and their families.

"We still need to learn more about the motivation for today's shooting as law enforcement does its work, but we don't need anything else to state a clear moral truth: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation," he said.

"Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America."