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Buffalo shooting ‘carried out by sick, demented individual fuelled by diet of hate’ who is now on suicide watch

A teenager accused of killing 10 people and injuring three others in a mass shooting at a US supermarket in the city of Buffalo is on suicide watch, officials say.

Payton Gendron is being detained separately from other individuals in a holding centre following the massacre on Saturday afternoon.

Eleven of the 13 people who were shot were black.

The 18-year-old suspect, who is white, was arraigned on first-degree murder charges hours after the shooting, to which he pleaded not guilty.

Image: Payton Gendron in a police mugshot

Authorities are calling the shooting an act of “violent extremism” motivated by racial hatred.

Police said the suspect, of Conklin, New York, drove about 200 miles (320 km) from his home to the store and, wearing military gear, used a helmet camera to livestream the attack.

For at least two minutes, he broadcast the shooting on the streaming platform Twitch before the service ended his transmission.

The victims included a church deacon, a woman buying strawberries to make cakes, and an 86-year-old woman who had just visited her husband at a nursing home.

Police believe Gendron acted alone. Federal agents have interviewed the suspect’s parents and have served multiple search warrants.

Image: Police outside the Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo where the shooting happened. Pic: AP

180-page racist manifesto

Federal authorities are still working to confirm the authenticity of a 180-page racist manifesto that was posted online, which detailed the plot and identified Gendron by name as the gunman, an official said.

Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, said the attack was committed by a “sick, demented individual who was fuelled (by) a daily diet of hate”.

Ms James said her office will be investigating social media following the atrocity.

She added: “Let us come together as one and let us put aside any differences and let us all stand and remember the words of Dr (Martin Luther) King, that love, only love, will overcome hate.”

Image: New York state attorney general Letitia James (in blue jacket) listens to man who became emotional during a prayer vigil across the street from the supermarket

The attack happened at the Tops Friendly Markets in Jefferson Avenue, about three miles (5km) north of downtown Buffalo in New York state.

How did the atrocity unfold?

According to police, the gunman began shooting in the car park before moving inside the supermarket. Four people were shot outside, including three fatally.

Security guard and retired police officer Aaron Salter fired multiple shots but none penetrated the gunman’s armour. The perpetrator killed Mr Salter and made his way through the aisles, shooting shoppers.

The gunman was confronted by police and put his rifle to his own neck, but then surrendered and dropped the weapon.

Image: People gather outside the store to pay their respects

‘More lives could have been lost’

Police have been praised for responding less than two minutes after the incident started, and the Buffalo mayor Byron Brown said more lives probably would have been lost if it was not for their “swift response” and “courageous actions”.

New York governor Kathy Hochul said the National Action Network, headed by Rev Al Sharpton, will pay for the funeral costs for the victims’ families. She also said that the state’s victim services has earmarked a total of $2m for the relatives.

She claimed “white supremacy terrorism… stops right here in Buffalo”.

She said: “To anyone else who dare break the security that every citizen is entitled to, to make them feel victimised, you’ve just picked a fight with 20 million New Yorkers – because we will continue to stand up because an attack on one is an attack on all.

“And this was, no other way to describe it, than white supremacy terrorism, it’s racism, it’s hatred, and it stops right here in Buffalo.”

Image: The home of shooting suspect Payton Gendron in Conklin, New York state

Suspect ‘was previously on police radar’

Meanwhile, Gendron appeared on the police radar last year after he threatened to carry out a shooting at a high school, according to a police official.

New York State Police said troopers were called to Susquehanna High School in Conklin on 8 June 2021, for a report that a 17-year-old student had made threatening statements.

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Biden: Hate ‘a stain on the soul of America’

Police said the student was taken into custody under a state mental health law and taken to hospital for evaluation but was released after about a day. He was not charged criminally and the police statement did not give the student’s name.

Speaking on Sunday, President Joe Biden said: “We must all work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America.

“Our hearts are heavy once again, but our resolve must never, ever waver.”