By Milo Mandelli-Valla
New York City, New York
On May 14, 2022, the latest act of white supremacy in the United States took place when a mass shooting occurred in Buffalo, New York at a local supermarket in the Kingsley neighborhood of the city. Ten people were killed, and three others were injured; 11 of the victims were Black. 18-year-old Payton Gendron from Conklin, NY is on trial for the attacks. Gendron went to the supermarket to intentionally target and kill Black victims and live-streamed the attack on Twitch.
Employees at the supermarket say that Gendron went to the supermarket a month before the attack occurred, around Easter. A produce manager said he questioned why she, a white woman, was working there. Gendron recounted in his diary that he was motivated to commit the attack at that supermarket because of the high Black demographic of the store.
The offender wrote about how he planned his attack for March 15, but then delayed it several times. In the posts, Gendron cites online research in choosing Buffalo as his site of the attack, stating that the zip code in Buffalo has a higher Black population than the other locations he was considering. Gendron wrote that he considered attacking a church or an elementary school but chose the supermarket because of the number of people that go to grocery stores. He referred to Google's popular times graph for the Tops Friendly Market in determining the time he would plan his attack, so the grocery store would be busiest. Gendron justified the attack as a way to counter the dwindling white population relative to minorities, saying that he wanted to help in offsetting that trend.
On the day of the attack, Gendron shot four people outside of the grocery store, three fatally. When he entered the store, he exchanged fire with an armed security guard, who authorities said was a retired Buffalo police officer. The security guard died of his injuries. The suspect then shot eight more people in the store, six of whom died, the release said. Confronted by police, the shooter took off some of his tactical gear and surrendered, per Buffalo police.
The gun used in the Buffalo mass shooting was purchased legally in New York state, Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) earlier told CNN, describing the weapon as an AR-15. The high-capacity magazine was likely purchased outside New York, the governor added. In addition to the AR-15, Gendron had a rifle and a shotgun in his car. The online diatribe attributed to Gendron said he planned to bring those same three types of guns with him that day. Writing appears all over the weapons, including the phrase "White Lives Matter" and names including what appears to be the name of a victim of a crime allegedly committed by a Black suspect. Other notations seized by investigators reflect the racist beliefs of the shooter, as well as his obsession with mass killing, according to a law enforcement source.
The easy access to a dangerous military-style weapon is being investigated by both local, state, and federal governments, as the nation grieves the loss of even more people to white supremacist violence and gun violence.