The white teenage gunman accused of killing 10 Black people in a racist frenzy at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store would have kept on killing if he had escaped the scene, the city's police commissioner said Monday.
The gunman, identified as Payton Gendron, 18, had talked about gunning down more people at another store if he'd been able to flee the Tops Friendly Market where he allegedly shot 13 people, 11 of them Black, Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told CNN.
"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.
The Saturday afternoon mayhem unfolded in a predominantly Black neighborhood in the northeastern U.S. city, an attack that some authorities are describing as a hate crime fueled by what they contend was the shooter's rage at nonwhite people and the racist theory that nonwhite immigrants are moving to the United States to replace white people.
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.
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.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday, at a White House press briefing, that Saturday’s killings are being investigated by the FBI “as a hate crime."
Federal prosecutors said they are contemplating federal hate crime charges in the case.
The mass killing was the latest in a string of them in the U.S. in recent years, although the first one in 2022. Just as in the aftermath of other such horrific scenes of violence, some U.S. politicians called for tighter gun controls. Such pleas in the past have not generated significant gun ownership changes, however, with gun rights advocates rallying to uphold the constitutional guarantee of owning weapons.
U.S. President Joe Biden deplored the Buffalo killings and plans, along with first lady Jill Biden, to visit the city of 255,000 on Tuesday.
At the White House, the U.S. leader paid tribute to one of the victims, security guard and retired police officer Aaron Salter. Salter fired repeatedly at the attacker, hitting his armor-plated vest at least once before being shot and killed.
Biden said Salter "gave his life trying to save others."
Portions of a video circulating online showed the gunman killing multiple shoppers in less than a minute. At one point, the video shows him pointing his weapon at a white person cowering behind a checkout counter, but says, "Sorry!" and doesn't shoot.
Gendron surrendered to police who confronted him in the supermarket's vestibule. He was arraigned on a murder charge pending further court proceedings in the coming days.
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."
Some material in this report came from The Associated Press.