Joe and Jill Biden laid flowers at the Tops Market Memorial, the place of Saturday’s shooting, and will meet with families of the 10 victims.
The first couple didn’t speak as they bowed their heads at the makeshift memorial, strew with balloons, stuffed animals, flowers and homemade signs.
Jill Biden laid the bouquet of white flowers at the site. The president crossed himself as both stood silently in front of a tree, the base of which is now covered with tributes to the victims.
The Bidens then stepped away from the memorial to make way for Gov. Kathy Hochul and Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The two New York officials each placed bouquets down at the tree.
On his visit, President Biden is expected to denounce racially-motivated crimes and call on Congress to pass stricter gun control legislation.
Hochul and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown greeted them at the airport and joined them on their visit.
Departing the White House this morning, the president had a copy of The Washington Post tucked under his arm, with photos of some of the victims on its front page.
The first lady was dressed in black. Both looked somber.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the first couple ‘will comfort the families of the 10 people whose lives were senselessly taken in this horrific shooting. And they will express gratitude for the bravery of members of law enforcement and other law enforcement members who took immediate action to try and protect and save lives.’
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the scene of the shooting at a Buffalo grocery store; the first couple left flowers at the memorial site
Jill Biden carries a large bouquet of white flowers as she walks hand-in-hand with President Joe Biden to the memorial site
The Bidens bowed their heads after leaving the flowers
Joe and Jill Biden left for Buffalo on Tuesday morning where they will pay their respects at the Tops Market Memorial
President Joe Biden embraces New York State Governor Kathy Hochul after disembarking Air Force One at Buffalo Niagara International Airport
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden talk to local law enforcement officials upon their arrival in Buffalo
A makeshift memorial is set up in Buffalo after Saturday’s deadly shooting
Mourners light candles at a makeshift memorial outside of Tops market
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden board Marine One in route to Buffalo
President Biden will also deliver remarks at a nearby community center where he is expected to decry racially motivated violence.
‘The President will call this despicable act for what it is: terrorism motivated by a hateful and perverse ideology that tears at the soul of our nation,’ a White House official said.
‘He’ll call on all Americans to give hate no safe harbor, and to reject the lies of racial animus that radicalize, divide us, and led to the act of racist violence we saw on Saturday that took the lives of 10 of our countrymen,’ the official added.
The president will also push Congress to pass stricter gun control laws – a call that may be in vain. He will ask lawmakers to take legislative steps to bar those with mental illness from acquiring weapon.
Biden has previously asked lawmakers to require new background checks for gun buyers and ban military-style ‘assault’ weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Women place flowers at a memorial for victims near the scene of a shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo
President Joe Biden talks with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the tarmac at the Buffalo airport
In Buffalo, Joe and Jill Biden will meet with the victims’ families
President Joe Biden waves from Air Force One as Jill Biden looks on
A memorial is seen for victims near the scene of a shooting
But Democrats don’t have enough votes to pass them. Other mass shootings have sparked no legislation action. Biden has said he ran for president after then-President Donald Trump failed to denouce as white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. He called it a ‘battle for the soul of America.’
Yet he’s been unsuccessful at stamping out the rise in white supremacist groups or curbing gun violence.
Thirteen were shot in Saturday’s shooting and 10 have died in what authorities are called a racially-motivated attack. Eleven of the people shot were black.
It is the latest in a spate of mass shootings that authorities said were motivated by hate, including those at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina; and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Suspect Payton Gendron, 18, allegedly planned the attack for months before he drove for three hours to carry out the attack, which authorities are calling an act of ‘violent extremism’ motivated by race.
Police said Sunday that they believe the attack had been planned for months and added that they are investigating a 180-page manifesto that Gendron reportedly posted before going on his rampage that included a plan to drive several counties away to carry out the shooting at the Tops Friendly Market.
Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, NY, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. He is being held without bail and faces life in prison. He is due back in court on Thursday
Gendron identified himself as a white supremacist in the document as he explained his fears white people are being replaced by other races, police said.
‘The shooter traveled hours from outside this community to perpetrate this crime on the people of Buffalo, a day when people were enjoying the sunshine, enjoying family, enjoying friends,’ Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a Saturday evening news conference.
‘People in a supermarket, shopping and bullets raining down on them. People’s lives being snuffed out in an instant for no reason.’
Jean-Pierre did not directly answer when asked why Biden was going to Buffalo on Tuesday and did not visit Waukesha, Wisconsin, after the driver of a sport utility vehicle killed six people and injured sixty-two others by hitting participants and observers at the annual Christmas parade.
‘He’s visited many communities,’ she said of the president.
‘Buffalo is not the first community – sadly – that he has to go up to, because of a violent attack,’ she said.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin slammed Biden for visiting Buffalo after not visiting his home state.
‘Last year when Darrell Brooks murdered six innocent people and injured over 60 during the Waukesha Christmas parade, the White House claimed President Biden couldn’t go to Waukesha because it would require too many ‘assets’ and ‘resources.’ But within hours of the most recent senseless tragedy, the White House apparently found the resources to plan a presidential trip to Buffalo,’ he said in a statement.
Jean-Pierre on Monday also refused to call out by name any public figures who pushed fringe theories like the alleged shooter did.
She refused to do so again on Tuesday, saying she was not going to give them the attention they wanted.
‘The people who spread this filth, know who they are, and they should be ashamed of themselves, but I’m not going to give them or give them or their noxious ideas they’re pushing the attention that they desperately want,’ she said.
And she doubled down when asked again.
‘I’m not gonna give them a platform. So I just want to make that very clear, but we’re going to make our case directly to the people. We have a vision for this country. One where we combat hate racism and violence. We denounce white racism and domestic terror. We hope all will join us in denouncing hate and racism, as well as a conspiracy theories that run rampant online,’ she said.
Retired Buffalo Police Department cop Aaron Salter, pictured right, has been named as the first victim of the tragedy. He was working as a store security guard and shot Gendron, who returned fire and killed Salter
Ruth Witfield, 86, the mother of former Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Witfield was also killed in the murder spree
Pearly Young, 77, who fed needy residents in Buffalo’s Central Park neighborhood for 25 years, was shot and killed Saturday
Roberta Drury, 32, who was killed in the shooting while she was shopping for dinner, was described as ‘very vibrant’ by her sister Amanda. ‘She always was the center of attention and made the whole room smile and laugh’
Katherine Massey was one of the victims killed in the grocery store shooting in Buffalo on Saturday. She is pictured in October 2011
Celestine Chaney, 65, who was at the supermarket to buy strawberries for shortcake, was killed during the shooting, her son, Wayne Jones, 48, confirmed. Chaney is pictured above with her granddaughter Kay Savvy
Heyward Patterson, who would often give people rides to and from the supermarket and help them carry their groceries, was also among the 10 people fatally shot, according to Patterson’s great niece Teniqua Clark
Seven of of the victims have been named by family members by Sunday.
Shopper Ruth Whitfield, an 86-year-old grandmother, who is also the mother of former Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield, and Katherine Massey, who had gone to the store to pick up some groceries, were killed, according to Buffalo News.
Pearly Young, 77, who fed needy residents in Buffalo’s Central Park neighborhood for 25 years, was shot and killed during the massacre, reporter Madison Carter tweeted.
Celestine Chaney, 65, who was at the supermarket to buy strawberries for shortcake, was killed during the shooting, her son, Wayne Jones, 48, confirmed. Roberta Drury, 32, was at the store to buy groceries for dinner when she was fatally shot, her sister Amanda Drury, 34, said.
Heyward Patterson, who would often give people rides to and from the supermarket and help them carry their groceries, was also among the 10 people fatally shot, according to Patterson’s great niece Teniqua Clark.
Officials said the rifle Gendron used in the attack was purchased legally but the magazines he used for ammunition were not allowed to be sold in New York.