A suspected white supremacist accused of gunning down 10 people and wounding three others in a live-streamed massacre at a Buffalo, NY supermarket on Saturday pleaded not guilty to first degree murder charges.
Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, NY, who was barefoot, masked and wearing a paper smock, told the judge that he understood the charges against and was not guilty at an arraignment Saturday evening.
He made no other comment, and Gendron’s lawyer confirmed he planned to plead not guilty to the killings.
Hours earlier Gendron was caught by police emerging from the Tops Friendly Supermarket, at 1275 Jefferson Avenue about 2.30pm after shooting 13 people, 10 fatally.
Police said 11 of those shot were black, with the other two white, and suggested Gendron had walked through the supermarket looking for specific people to target, although didn’t say whether this was based on the color of their skin.
He apparently scrawled the n-word on his rifle before carrying out Saturday’s massacre at Tops Friendly Supermarket in Buffalo.
Three gunshot victims are being treated for their injuries, and cops say 11 of those shot were black.
Gendron lived-streamed the assault as he opened fire inside the Tops Friendly Supermarket, at 1275 Jefferson Avenue, at about 2.30pm.
Police described the incident as a ‘heavily armed’ attack.
‘He exited his vehicle. He was very heavily armed. He had tactical gear. He had a tactical helmet on. He had a camera that he was livestreaming what he was doing,’ city Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a news conference.
Payton Hendron is arrested Saturday after killing 10 people at a Tops Market supermarket in Buffalo, Upstate New York. Police say the massacre was motivated by the 18 year-old’s hatred for black people. Eleven of those shot were African-American
Gendron shot four people outside the store, three fatally, the commissioner said. He then went into the supermarket where he exchanged gunfire with a security guard, a former Buffalo police officer. The ex-cop shot at him multiple times but the bullets hit the shooter’s body arm and left him unfazed, the commissioner said.
Gendron then killed the security guard.
A further six victims are believed to have been shot dead inside.
The killings were broadcast live on streaming site Twitch, although the clip was removed within two minutes of its posting.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul blasted Gendron’s ‘demented’ killings and called for a crackdown on social media firms, who she said effectively acted as an ‘accomplice’ by letting mass-shooters like Gendron glorify their crimes.
President Joe Biden is keeping close track of the developments in the tragedy, according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
‘The president has been briefed by his Homeland Security advisor on the horrific shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., this afternoon. He will continue to receive updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as further information develops,’ she said, adding the president and first lady were praying for the victims and their loved ones.
‘This was pure evil, it was straight up a racially motivated hate crime,’ the Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said.
Eleven of the 13 victims were black.
The suspected gunman, seen here, killed ten people and wounded three others in a Buffalo supermarket
‘This is the worst nightmare that any community can face, and we are hurting and we are seething right now,’ Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference. ‘The depth of pain that families are feeling and that all of us are feeling right now cannot even be explained.’
The young man drove hours from the white suburban town of Conklin, just outside Binghamton, to the scene of the massacre.
As the shooting unfolded, Gramaglia said, Buffalo police charged into the store and confronted the gunman in the vestibule.
‘At that point the suspect put the gun to his own neck. Buffalo police personnel – two patrol officers – talked the suspect into dropping the gun. He dropped the gun, took off some of his tactical gear, surrendered at that point. And he was led outside, put in a police car,’ he said.
The video of the arrest seen by DailyMail.com shows police cuffing the suspect and trying to get people away from the scene as several bodies lie motionless on the ground.
The gunman was carrying two rifles and wore a Kevlar helmet, seen here, body armor and carried two rifles
Officers in riot gear secure the crime scene after 13 people were shot, three fatally, inside a Buffalo supermarket
Heavily armed officer confer outside the Tops Friendly Supermarket located in a predominately black neighborhood just north of downtown Buffalo
Buffalo police department responded to the scene of a mass shooting that left 10 people dead and three wounded
‘A shooter, it’s a mass shooter type s***,’ one of the onlookers says as police and emergency responders detain the man in the military uniform.
‘Damn, look at him, a young boy,’ the onlooker adds as he comments on one of the bodies.
Police then instruct the onlookers to back up as they take control of the situation.
Hours after the shooting, Erica Pugh-Mathews waited outside the police tape wondering what happened to family members who were inside the store.
‘We would like to know the status of my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was in there with her fiance, they separated and went to different aisles,’ she said. ‘A bullet barely missed him. He was able to hide in a freezer but he was not able to get to my aunt and does not know where she is. We just would like word either way if she’s OK.’
The shooting took place on Saturday at the Tops supermarket (pictured) at 1275 Jefferson Avenue, in Buffalo, New York. At least 10 people were shot
The gunman opened fire around 2.30pm on Saturday while livestreaming the shooting
Bystanders and shoppers gathered outside the supermarket where the shooting took place
The Buffalo Police Department said the shooter has been taken into custody
Officials speaking under the condition of anonymity cautioned the investigation was in its preliminary stages and that authorities hadn’t yet discerned a clear motive, but they are looking into racial animus a possibility.
The FBI is investigating the spree as a hate crime and a ‘case of racially motivated violent extremism,’ Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo field office Stephen Blodgett told the New York Times. The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York will also investigate the case.
The supermarket is located in a predominately black neighborhood, about 3 miles north of downtown Buffalo.
Gendron is the oldest of four children of Paul and Pamela Gendron, two civil engineers who both work for the New York State Department of Transportation.
Neighbors described the family as upper middle class.
‘They have a really nice family,’ neighbor Nancy Santucci said. ‘They seem like regular people. In a million years I never would think that anyone from this neighborhood would drive to Buffalo to carry out a racially motivated shooting.’
She said that Payton Gendron graduated from Susquehanna Valley High School last year and had a big party with balloons on the sprawling lawn of the family’s home. She recalled him bringing home a human size Brontosaurs that he had made for a school project.
‘I’m just shocked,’ she said.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting, according to Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley.
Eric County Executive Mark Polonczar confirmed that there had been a shooting in the area and that residents should stay away from the supermarket.
‘I have been advised of an active multiple shooting event at the Tops Markets on Jefferson Street in Buffalo,’ Poloncarz tweeted. ‘Police are on scene. Please stay away from the area.’
New York Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was ‘closely monitoring the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo,’ which is her hometown. She said the state has offered assistance to local officials.
Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the shooter was exiting.
They described him as a white male in his late teens or early twenties sporting full camo, a black helmet and what appeared to be a rifle.
‘He was standing there with the gun to his chin. We were like what the heck is going on? Why does this kid have a gun to his face?’ Kephart said.
‘He dropped to his knees. He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun, and was tackled by the police.’
Police and emergency vehicles arrived quickly on the scene and pushed everyone back
Will G., a frozen dairy worker at the supermarket, said he walked out of the cooler to stock milk when the shooting occurred.
‘I just heard shots. Shots and shots and shots,’ he told Buffalo News. ‘It sounded like things were falling over.’
He added that he hid in the cooler and that more people joined him to take shelter from the gunfire.
‘I hid. I just hid,’ he said. I wasn’t going to leave that room.’
Police officials and a spokesperson for the supermarket chain did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The surrounding area is primarily residential, with a Family Dollar store and fire station near the store.
Police closed off the block, lined by spectators, and yellow police tape surrounded the full parking lot. Mayor Byron Brown was at the scene late Saturday afternoon and expected to address the media.
The shooting came little more than a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Soopers grocery in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people.
Investigators have not released any information about why they believe the man charged in that attack targeted the supermarket.