Washington — Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Sunday that the suspected gunman who opened fire at a supermarket in the city, killing 10 and wounding three, "came here to take as many Black lives as possible."
"We are certainly saddened that someone drove from hundreds of miles away, someone not from this community, that did not know this community, that came here to take as many Black lives as possible, who did this in a willful, premeditated fashion, planning this," Brown said in an interview with "Face the Nation." "But we are a strong community and we will keep moving forward."
Police in New York said that on Saturday afternoon, an 18-year-old White man who was heavily armed and wearing tactical gear got out of his vehicle at Tops Friendly Market and shot four people in the parking lot, killing three of them. He then walked inside the store and encountered a retired Buffalo police officer working as a security guard, who fired multiple shots at the suspected gunman. The shooter then killed the guard and walked through the supermarket shooting others.
Of the 13 victims, 11 were African American.
When law enforcement arrived at the store, they took the suspect, identified as Payton Gendron, into custody. Gendron, who police said came from Conklin, New York, was arraigned on a charge of murder in the first degree and pleaded not guilty.
In a hate-filled manifesto purportedly written and posted by Gendron before the attack, he said that he chose the location because it has a high Black population and "isn't that far away." The supermarket is about three and a half hours away from Gendron's home.
Brown, the first Black mayor of Buffalo, said the part of the city where the shooting occurred is 80% African American, and the community "won't let hateful ideology stop the progress" it has been experiencing. He made an impassioned plea for lawmakers to pass "sensible" gun control measures.
"We have to put more pressure on lawmakers in Washington, those that have been obstructionists to sensible gun control, to reforming the way guns are allowed to proliferate and fall into the wrong hands in this country, so whether it is urban, suburban, rural, no community seemingly is safe from these mass shootings," he said. "It's not just Buffalo, New York. It's communities in every corner of this country that are unsafe with guns and with the hateful ideology that has been allowed to proliferate on social media and the internet. That has to be reigned in, that has to be stopped."
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Justice Department is investigating the shooting as a "hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism."
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the suspected shooter obtained his gun legally, but made illegal modifications to it.
President Biden hasto pass more stringent gun laws such as expanding background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, but efforts have been unsuccessful.
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