Authorities in Buffalo, New York, have deemed Saturday’s mass shooting at a local grocery store to be a racist hate crime, according to CNN.
18-year-old suspect Payton Gendron killed 10 people at a Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black area of the city. Gendron confessed to police that he had targeted the neighborhood on account of its large Black population, driving over three hours there from his home in Conklin, New York.
“This was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said at a news conference over the weekend, according to NBC News. “Straight up racially motivated, hate crime from somebody outside of our community — outside of the City of Good Neighbors, as the mayor said — coming into our community and trying to inflict evil upon us.”
The victims include a retired police officer who attempted to stop the shooter and the 86-year-old mother of Buffalo’s former fire commissioner.
Gendron live streamed his shooting rampage before surrendering to law enforcement in the parking lot outside of the store. He was arraigned Saturday night in Buffalo City Court on one count of first degree murder and pleaded not guilty.
Authorities say Gendron is now on suicide watch. If convicted, he would face a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole, according to NPR.
Gendron reportedly published a manifesto online last week describing his plans for the shooting and declaring himself a subscriber to the false racial replacement theory that white murders have often used to justify violent crimes against minorities.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul has announced that $2.8 million in federal and state funding will be made available to those impacted by the shooting, including victims’ families. Hochul said her administration “will spare no effort to ensure the victims of this act of terrorism by a white supremacist are receiving all the resources and support they need.”