Police are investigating a hate crime and “racially motivated violent extremism” after a shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday killed at least 10 people and injured three others.
The Buffalo Police Department said an 18-year-old man was taken into custody after the attack took place at the TOPS Friendly Market.
Local officials said the suspect drove “hours” to Buffalo from another New York county, armed with an assault rifle, wearing tactical gear and a video camera, which he used to livestream the shooting.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia described the shooting as “pure evil” and “straightforwardly a racially motivated hate crime from someone outside our community.”
Police said they had evidence that the shooting had a racial component, but did not elaborate. Eleven of the victims were black and two were white. They would not comment on reports that the alleged gunman posted a racist manifesto online before the attack.
Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaria told reporters that the shooting began around 2:30 p.m. ET when the suspect allegedly shot four people and left three dead in the TOPS parking lot.
Once inside, he was shot in the chest by the store’s security, a retired Buffalo police officer, but the bullet hit the gunman’s armored vest. Gramaria said he fired back and killed the security guard.
Gramaria described the three’s injuries as “non-life threatening”.
Local police said they will charge the suspect with first-degree murder and sentence him to life in prison without parole. But the FBI said it was also investigating the case as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism.
“This is the worst nightmare any community can ever face. We are hurting and we are boiling right now as a community,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said in a news release. “The pain the family is feeling and the pain we all are feeling right now can’t even be explained.”
“I’m praying this doesn’t increase racial tensions,” Brown said.
Trine Rose, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, said her office also viewed the incident as violent extremism and a hate crime: “I hope this brings us together…don’t divide us, ‘ she told reporters.
New York Gov. Kathy Hocher said she was “watching the shooting closely” and that her administration had provided assistance to local officials.
It was the 198th mass shooting in the United States so far this year, killing 210 people, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks mass killings.