Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia speaks during a press conference after 10 people were killed during a mass shooting at a Tops grocery story in Buffalo. Photo courtesy Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown/Facebook
May 14 (UPI) -- A suspect has been arrested after fatally shooting 10 people, including a beloved retired police officer working as a security guard, and injuring three others at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, officials said Saturday.
"This was pure evil. It was a straight-up racially motivated hate crime," Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said during a press conference. FBI officials said that the mass shooting was being investigated as a hate crime.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said that the suspect, an 18-year-old White man later identified as Payton Gendron, stormed the store wearing tactical gear around 2:30 p.m.
Gramaglia noted that the suspect is not a resident of Buffalo and had driven for hours to carry out the attack, which he live-streamed. He added that 11 of the 13 total victims are Black and two are White.
"The individual exited his car and engaged four individuals, he shot four people in the parking lot," Gramaglia said. Three of those victims were killed and one survived.
The suspect then entered the store and started shooting at customers, Gramaglia said.
"One of the individuals inside the store is a security guard, a beloved security guard, who is a retired Buffalo police officer -- a hero in our eyes -- he engaged the suspect and fired multiple shots," Gramaglia said.
Gramaglia said that the security guard's rounds "struck the suspect" but were not able to stop him because of the "heavy armored plating" he was wearing.
"The suspect engaged our retired officer and he was ultimately shot and deceased at the scene."
After killing the security guard, the suspect "worked his way back to the front of the store" where he was engaged by responding police officers.
"At that point, the suspect put the gun to his own neck," Gramaglia said.
"Two patrol officers talked the suspect into dropping the gun, he dropped the gun, took off some of his tactical gear, surrendered at that point and he was led outside, put in a police car and transferred to Buffalo police headquarters."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown called the incident "the worst nightmare that any community can face" in remarks made during the press conference.
"We are hurting and we are seething right now as a community. The depth of pain that families are feeling and that all of us are feeling right now cannot even be explained," Brown said.
Brown said that he had helped bring the particular Topssupermarket to Buffalo and that he and his family frequents the store.
"The shooter was not from this community," Brown said. "In fact, the shooter traveled hours from outside this community to perpetrate this crime on the people of Buffalo -- a day when people were enjoying the sunshine."
The mayor added that officials had received calls from the White House as the department of Homeland Security said in a statement that Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been briefed on the shooting.
"DHS is actively coordinating with all relevant local, state, and federal agencies and will continue to provide the Department's full support," the tweet reads.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Twitter that she was "closely monitoring the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo."
"We have offered assistance to local officials," she said. "If you are in Buffalo, please avoid the area and follow guidance from law enforcement and local officials."
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said during the press conference that he had requested Judge Craig Hannah to "come downtown immediately and arraign this individual" on a charge of first-degree murder.
A spokesperson for the streaming platform Twitch has confirmed to United Press International that the suspect used its services.
"Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against violence of any kind and works swiftly to respond to all incidents," the spokesperson said.
"The user has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content."
The company completed an internal investigation which found that its staff removed the live-stream less than two minutes after the violence started.
Gendron has pleaded not guilty and was ordered to be held without bail.