On May 14, 18-year-old Payton Gendron allegedly committed a mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Markets supermarket in Kingsley, an eastern neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. According to authorities, Kingsley is a predominantly Black community, and they concluded the shooting was racially motivated. Gendron killed 10 people and injured three others. Eleven of the victims were African American. Gendron, who was wearing body armor and camouflage gear and armed with an assault weapon, live-streamed his attack on the social media platform Twitch.
Here are nine things to know about the white terror attack on the Black community in Buffalo.
The Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect allegedly posted a manifesto dozens of pages long, which included racist and anti-Semitic memes promoted by white supremacists.
The manifesto, in PDF form, was originally posted to Google Docs two days before the shooting, according to file data accessed by NBC News.
It detailed a planned shooting and claimed the suspect had selected Buffalo because it was the city with the highest number of Black people nearest to where he lived, in Conklin, New York, about 231 miles and more than a three-hour drive away.
“We are aware of the manifesto allegedly written by the suspect, and we’re working to definitively confirm that he is the author,” one law enforcement official said.
The manifesto repeatedly referenced the “great replacement” theory, which states that non-white individuals are being brought into the U.S. and other Western countries to “replace” white voters to achieve a political agenda. Anti-immigration groups and white supremacists are among those who believe the theory, according to the National Immigration Forum.
White supremacists argue that the surge of immigrants, particularly Black people and people of color, will cause the extinction of the white race.
The “great replacement” conspiracy theory falsely claims white people are being “replaced” in America as part of an elaborate Jewish conspiracy theory.
Several white mass shooters since 2018 have cited the theory, including Robert Bowers, who has been charged with killing 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018; Patrick Crusius, who allegedly killed 23 people in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart; and John Earnest, who pleaded guilty to murdering one and injuring three others at a Poway, California, synagogue in 2019, NBC News reported.
The theory is growing in popularity. Nearly half of Republicans agree with the “great replacement” theory and Fox News TV host Tucker Carlson often mentions it, The Washington Post reported.
A large national poll conducted in December 2021 by the Associated Press and National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago found that nearly half of Republican respondents agree at least to some extent with the idea that there’s a deliberate intent to “replace” native-born Americans with immigrants.
About three in 10 Americans overall agreed with the idea that intentional replacement was occurring or that native-born Americans were losing influence, according to the poll.
One of the supermarket employees, 20-year-old Zaire Goodman, reportedly survived a bullet piercing his neck. He was wounded in the mass shooting in the Buffalo supermarket while collecting shopping carts in the parking lot, his family said.
“A couple inches to the left or the right, and he wouldn’t be here,” Goodman’s mom, Zeneta Everhart, told the Buffalo News. “I know his life was spared for a reason, and he has to find out what that reason is.”
After Goodman saw the gunman move on after shooting him, Goodman fled with another employee and called his mother, she said.
Goodman was brought to Erie County Medical Center, but miraculously, didn’t even need stitches, Everhardt said. He was soon discharged, The New York Post reported.
“He’s in good spirits,” Everhart said about her son, who has autism and has worked at Tops for almost two years. “He’s a free-spirited kid. This happened to him and now he’s done with it.”
Goodman hopes to return to Villa Maria College and pursue a degree in creative writing.
Among the victims was a 30-year Buffalo police department veteran who retired in 2018 and worked security at the supermarket. During his time as an officer, Aaron Salter Jr., 55, earned a reputation for bravery.
Salter confronted the gunman and fired back, but Salter’s shots did not penetrate the gunman’s bullet-proof armor.
Three other store employees and several shoppers were killed in what has become one of the deadliest racist massacres in American history, The New York Times reported.
In addition to Salter, the names of the people fatally shot were released by the authorities: Celestine Chaney, 65, of Buffalo; Roberta A. Drury, 32, of Buffalo; Andre Mackneil, 53, of Auburn, N.Y.; Katherine Massey, 72, of Buffalo; Margus D. Morrison, 52, of Buffalo; Heyward Patterson, 67, of Buffalo; Geraldine Talley, 62, of Buffalo; Ruth Whitfield, 86, of Buffalo; and Pearl Young, 77, of Buffalo.
The people who were wounded included Christopher Braden, 55, of Lackawanna, N.Y.; Zaire Goodman, 20, of Buffalo; and Jennifer Warrington, 50, of Tonawanda, N.Y.
Salter’s son, Aaron Salter III, said in an interview that his father “was on the police force for 30 years and nothing like this ever happened. He was just doing a security job, and that guy had to come in there and take all these innocent lives for no reason,”
Massey, 72, was a community advocate for civil rights and education, and worked hard to improve conditions for Buffalo’s Black community, said former Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, who was friends with Massey for more than 20 years.
“We lost a voice yesterday. We lost a powerful, powerful voice,” Grant told The Buffalo News.
Massey, who had gone to Tops to grocery shop, was a member of “We Are Women Warriors,” which Grant founded.
“She was unapologetic about making sure our community was not ignored,” Grant said.
She also wrote for local newspapers the Buffalo Challenger and Buffalo Criterion.
In 2021, Massey penned a letter to the Buffalo News in support of more federal regulation of firearms.
“There needs to be extensive federal action/legislation to address all aspects of the issue,” she wrote. “Current pursued remedies mainly inspired by mass killings – namely, universal background checks and banning assault weapons – essentially exclude the sources of our city’s gun problems. Illegal handguns, via out-of-state gun trafficking, are the primary culprits.”
Gendron had previously made threats against his high school, Susquehanna Valley High School, the police said. When students were asked for a school project about their plans after graduation, Gendron, a senior, said he wanted to commit a murder-suicide, according to a law enforcement official.
Although Gendron claimed to be joking, the state police were called to investigate. Gendron, then 17, was taken into custody on June 8, 2021, under a state mental health law, The New York Times reported.
He underwent a psychiatric hospital evaluation and was released within a couple of days.
After his rampage, Gendron put his gun to his neck as if he intended to kill himself. Two officers persuaded him to drop the weapon and surrender.
He was charged with first-degree murder, The New York Times reported.
Besides the gun he opened fire with, Gendron had two other weapons stored in his car – a shotgun and a rifle. He used an assault-style rifle to carry out the attack, Buffalo police said.
The rifle had characteristics that made it legal in New York but it had been illegally modified after purchase.
The semi-automatic weapon was modified with an illegal magazine, Gov. Kathy Hochul said. The sale of any magazine that has a capacity of over 10 rounds is barred for sale in New York State, The Democrat and Chronicle reported
Gendron purchased the gun from Vintage Firearms, a collectible firearms and ammunition store in Endicott, Broome County, about 20 minutes from his hometown.
In New York State, a person must be 21 or older to obtain a license to purchase a handgun. But anyone 18 or older can purchase a long gun, like a rifle or shotgun, without a license, and a person as young as 16 can own a long gun.
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Photo: Payton Gendron, 18, targeted Black people and killed 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket (Erie County District Attorney’s Office). / A police officer lifts the tape at the scene of a shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, N.Y., May 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)