Alleged teen gunman in Buffalo mass shooting set to appear in court

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — The 18-year-old suspect accused of shooting 13 people, 10 fatally, in what authorities described as a racially-motivated rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket is scheduled to appear in court Thursday for a felony hearing.

The suspect, Payton Gendron, was initially charged with one count of murder following Saturday afternoon’s massacre at a Tops Friendly Market in which police officials alleged he intentionally targeted Black people in the attack he planned for months. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered to be held without bail.

Gendron is expected to face additional murder and attempted murder counts and state hate crime charges as early as Thursday. The FBI is also conducting a parallel investigation, which the Department of Justice said could lead to federal hate crime charges.

During a visit to Buffalo on Tuesday, President Joe Biden called the mass shooting an act of “domestic terrorism.”

All 10 of the people killed in the attack were Black, six women and four men. Three other people were wounded in the shooting, including one Black victim and two white victims.

Gendron is scheduled to appear in Buffalo City Court at 9:30 a.m. EST.

Investigators said Gendron drove three hours from his home in Conklin, New York, and alleged he spent Friday conducting a final reconnaissance on the store before committing the mass shooting Saturday afternoon.

Authorities allege Gendron was wielding an AR-15-style rifle, dressed in military fatigues, body armor and wearing a tactical helmet with a camera attached when he stormed the store around 2:30 p.m., shooting four people outside the business and nine others inside. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the suspect fired a barrage of 50 shots during the rampage.

Police said Gendron allegedly livestreamed the attack on the gaming website Twitch before the company took down the live feed two minutes into the shooting.

Among those killed was 55-year-old Aaron Salter Jr., a retired Buffalo police officer who was working as a security guard at the supermarket. Authorities said Salter fired at the gunman, but the bullets had no effect due to the bulletproof vest the suspect wore.

Buffalo police officers arrived at the store one minute after getting the first calls of an active shooter and confronted the suspect, who responded by placing the barrel of the rifle to his chin and threatening to kill himself, according to Gramaglia. He said the officers de-escalated the situation and talked Gendron into surrendering.

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