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Biden Declares Buffalo Mass Shooting 'Domestic Terrorism'


President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects to the victims of Saturday's shooting at a memorial across the street from the TOPS Market in Buffalo, N.Y., May 17, 2022.

U.S. President Joe Biden declared Tuesday that last weekend's mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, in which a white teenage gunman allegedly killed 10 Black people at a grocery store in a racist rampage was "domestic terrorism" fueled by "white supremacy … running through our body politic."

Biden and first lady Jill Biden met privately with relatives of those killed and three others who were injured in the mayhem at the Tops Friendly Market before he briefly told Americans about each of them by name in a televised address from the northeastern U.S. city.

Biden condemned the attack, saying, "White supremacy is a poison" that has "no place in America. None."

He said that "hate and fear are being given too much oxygen" in the U.S. and vowed that "evil will not win. Hate will not prevail."

As he has in the past, Biden called for Congress to pass legislation that has been rejected for years, "to keep assault weapons off our streets." The U.S. Constitution enshrines gun ownership by individuals, and gun control advocates have been unable to overcome the gun lobby's opposition to tighter rules on the sale and possession of firearms.

Nonetheless, Biden said that "from this tragedy" will come "hope, light and life. Stick together, we'll get through this."

Law enforcement authorities have accused 18-year-old Payton Gendron of carrying out the attack after he scoped out the layout of the grocery store in previous visits to the predominantly Black neighborhood. Eleven of the 13 shooting victims were Black.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the attack as a hate crime.

"I want to be clear, for my part, from everything we know, this was a targeted attack, a hate crime, and an act of racially motivated violent extremism," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement Monday. "While there remain a lot of unknowns as there always do in an investigation at this stage, what is absolutely certain is that we at the FBI are committed to comprehensively and aggressively investigating Saturday's attack."

Investigators are studying a racist 180-page document, purportedly written by Gendron, that said the assault was intended to terrorize all nonwhite, non-Christian people and get them to leave the United States.

Police say Gendron drove 320 kilometers from his home in Conklin, New York, fired an AR-15-style rifle during the attack, wore body armor and used a helmet camera to livestream the carnage on the internet.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told CNN on Monday that the shooter had talked about shooting more people at another store if he had been able to flee the Tops Friendly Market.

"He was going to get in his car and continue to drive down Jefferson Avenue and continue doing the same thing," the Buffalo police official said.

Gendron surrendered to police who confronted him in the supermarket's vestibule. He was arraigned on a murder charge pending further court proceedings later this week.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the shooting, with his spokesman saying Sunday that Guterres was "appalled" by the "vile act of racist violent extremism in Buffalo."