Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

What we know so far about the Buffalo mass shooting

People pray outside the scene of a shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, N.Y., on Sunday. A day earlier, a white 18-year-old killed 10 people and wounded three in what authorities described as "racially motivated violent extremism."
Matt Rourke
People pray outside the scene of a shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, N.Y., on Sunday. A day earlier, a white 18-year-old killed 10 people and wounded three in what authorities described as "racially motivated violent extremism."

Updated May 16, 2022 at 9:45 AM ET

A white, 18-year-old gunman allegedly carried out a racist attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., on Saturday, killing 10 people and injuring three others, according to authorities. Almost all of the victims were Black. The suspect, who livestreamed the mass shooting, is believed to be the author of a screed posted online detailing his white supremacist ideologies and his plan to target a Black community in New York.

Here's what else we know.

The shooter faces life in prison

The suspect has been charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, he would face a maximum sentence of life without parole.

Officials have said they are investigating the mass shooting as a racially motivated hate crime and are also considering a terrorism charge. Separately, the FBI is investigating the shooting as both a hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism.

"The evidence we have uncovered so far makes no mistake. This is an absolute racist hate crime that will be prosecuted as a hate crime. This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind," said Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.

On Monday, Gramaglia said that the suspect intended to leave the Tops supermarket and carry on his attacks, wreaking more violence on Black people who live near the grocery on Jefferson Avenue.

11 of the 13 victims are Black

Even before Buffalo Police released the names of the victims, loved ones were sharing details about those who were killed in the shooting. Of the 13 people who were shot, 11 were Black, two were white. Four of the victims were store employees. Some of the victims actively worked to serve their community.

Those who died are:

Aaron Salter, 55, a former police lieutenant who worked as a security guard at the store, was shot and killed after confronting the shooter at the front entrance.

Ruth Whitfield, 86, was a "beloved wife, mother, and grandmother," her lawyer said.

Pearly Young, 77, who ran a weekly food pantry, was shopping for groceries when she was killed.

Katherine "Kat" Massey, 72, was a writer who wrote about gun violence in her community and was part of a community group that helped local residents.

Heyward Patterson, 67, would drive residents to get their groceries and volunteered at his church in his free time.

Celestine Chaney was at the grocery store to get shrimp and strawberry shortcake. The 65-year-old delighted in her role as a grandmother most of all.

Roberta Drury, 32, was at the supermarket to get food for dinner. She often shopped for her brother and his family, who lived near the Tops grocery. Her brother is recovering from leukemia, he told NPR.

Margus D. Morrison, 52, of Buffalo. He was the father of three children, their mother told local TV news WKBW.

Andre Mackneil, 53, of Auburn, N.Y. He was engaged to marry Tracey Lynn Maciulewicz — who said on Saturday that Mackneil died on their son's third birthday, according to Auburn newspaper The Citizen.

Geraldine Talley, 62 of Buffalo.

Those who were injured:

Zaire Goodman, 20, of Buffalo, (treated and released from Erie County Medical Center)

Jennifer Warrington, 50, of Tonawanda, N.Y. (treated and released from ECMC)

Christopher Braden, 55, of Lackawanna, N.Y.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul says $2.8 million in federal and state fundingwill go toward helping victims' families cover funeral and burial expenses of up to $6,000, as well as medical expenses and counseling.

This is how police say the attack unfolded

The alleged gunman drove more than 200 miles from his small hometown of Conklin, N.Y., and arrived in east Buffalo the day before the attack to conduct "reconnaissance" on the grocery store, police said.

The shooting at Tops Friendly Markets began on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET in a parking lot outside the store, located in a predominantly Black neighborhood about 3 miles from downtown. The first police officers arrived one minute later, Gramaglia said on Sunday.

The gunman stepped out of his car wearing tactical gear and opened fire with an assault-style rifle, shooting four people, officials said. Three of those people died. After the gunman worked his way into the store, the security guard Aaron Salter attempted to the stop the shooter by firing his gun, but the gunman's body armor shielded him from the bullet. The suspect then shot and killed Salter.

The suspect was eventually confronted by police at the front of the store. He briefly pointed the rifle at his neck before police persuaded him to drop his guns and surrender.

The gunman livestreamed the attack the platform Twitch, the company told NPR. The stream was shut down less than 2 minutes after the violence began, the company said.

The shooter is an apparent white supremacist who left plans for a racist attack

The suspected gunman, Payton S. Gendron, allegedly published a 180-page document to the anonymous message board 4chan before carrying out the attack. The pages repeat a series of white supremacist ideologies, including a racist conspiracy theory known as "the great replacement," in an attempt to justify his plan to target and murder African Americans.

The screed's author, who has the same name as the suspected shooter, says "extreme boredom" during the pandemic led to his radicalization. The gunman who carried out the massacre of 51 people at two New Zealand mosques in 2019 promoted the same racist theory.

The suspect had threatened a shooting at his high school last year, prompting a visit from the New York State Police. He was subsequently sent to a hospital for a mental health evaluation that lasted a day and a half.

The gun was purchased in 2022, with a background check

In the document posted online, the suspect described his weapon as a Bushmaster XM-15, an AR-15-style rifle. It was fitted with an attachable high-capacity magazine — a banned device in New York, meaning it was illegally purchased or illegally transported across state lines, Gov. Hochul said.

The suspect purchased the rifle this year at a gun store near the suspect's hometown, the shop's owner told NPR. Robert Donald, owner of Vintage Firearms in Endicott, N.Y., confirmed that he had run a background check on Payton Gendron, but that the report showed nothing out of order.

Police said on Sunday that they recovered two additional guns — a rifle and a shotgun — and more ammunition in Gendron's car.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
Becky Sullivan has reported and produced for NPR since 2011 with a focus on hard news and breaking stories. She has been on the ground to cover natural disasters, disease outbreaks, elections and protests, delivering stories to both broadcast and digital platforms.