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Police investigating Buffalo mass shooting as 'racially motivated violent extremism'

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jefferson tops press conference

Officials gather for a press conference just hours after a gunman killed 10 people at a Tops Markets.

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The mass shooting at a Tops Markets on Saturday is being investigated as a "racially motivated hate crime," authorities said at a news conference detailing Buffalo's worst mass shooting.

The gunman, identified in court as Payton Gendron, 18, of Broome County, shot 13 people, including four store employees, and killed 10 of them, according to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.

Gendron was arraigned this evening in Buffalo City Court on a first-degree murder charge. 

Three of the victims who were shot are expected to survive, Gramaglia said. 

The four shot store employees included a security guard who fired multiple shots at the gunman and struck him, but the gunman was protected by body armor, Gramaglia said. The security guard was killed. 

Of the 13 people shot, 11 were Black and two were white, Gramaglia said. 

The local head of the FBI, Stephen Belongia, said that agency is investigating this “both as a hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism.”

"This is pure evil, a racially motivated hate crime," said John Garcia, the Erie County Sheriff, citing certain pieces of evidence that he chose not to elaborate upon.  

Public officials gathered Saturday evening to address the community after the massacre at a Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue.

“We are hurting, and we are seething right now as a community,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

Gramaglia said that at 2:30 p.m. an 18-year-old white male, very heavily armed, wearing tactical gear and live-streaming his actions via camera, shot four people in the Tops parking lot, killing three and injuring one, before entering the store.

Gramaglia said the gunman engaged with a Tops security guard, a retired Buffalo police officer, who survived initial shots but was ultimately killed. The police commissioner added that police were eventually able to corner the gunman in the store vestibule and, when the shooter put the gun to his head, officers were able to talk him out of the act.

"This is a tragic incident by someone who's not part of our community, who does not live here," Gramaglia said.

Gramaglia said that the three injured in the shooting did not appear to be dealing with life-threatening injuries.

"This is a day of great pain," Brown said.

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Ben Tsujimoto can be reached at btsujimoto@buffnews.com, at (716) 849-6927 or on Twitter at @Tsuj10.

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"We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," Tops Markets said after a shooting at its Jefferson Avenue supermarket on Saturday afternoon left 10 people dead and three wounded.

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