“Some of us are very angry this morning,” said Pastor T. Anthony Bronner, during a vigil in front of the parking lot of the Tops supermarket where a young man, equipped with an assault weapon and a vest bulletproof, fired on Saturday afternoon before entering the business and committing carnage.
Ten people died and three others were injured, police said. Eleven were black people and two were white, in this predominantly African-American neighborhood of Buffalo, a northern town on Lake Erie on the border with Canada.
A large crowd gathered at the scene of the tragedy on Sunday, praying and chanting the word “unity” while another vigil was held in a church where Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he was “devastated” by this “racist and violent attack”.
The killer identified as Payton Gendron, 18 and living in the downstate, carried a camera and broadcast his crime live on Twitch. The platform claimed to have deleted the content “two minutes” after the start of its broadcast.
“This individual was in the Buffalo area at least the previous day. He appears to have come to assess the area and do a reconnaissance before continuing this infamous and sickening act,” the Buffalo Police Chief said Sunday. Joseph Gramaglia, on ABC.
The man pointed his weapon at him, at the level of his neck, before finally surrendering to the police, according to Commissioner Gramaglia. Prosecuted for “premeditated murder”, he pleaded not guilty during a first appearance before a judge, reported the New York Times.
– “Domestic terrorism” –
US federal justice is investigating the massacre as a “hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism case”, according to a statement released Saturday evening.
“Hate crime” in the United States refers to an act directed against a targeted person because of elements of their identity such as race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or disability. Considered an aggravated federal offence, it carries harsher sentences.
A 180-page “manifesto” of a racist nature was notably broadcast by the shooter on the internet before the facts, according to American media.
According to the New York Times, citing this “manifesto”, the suspect was “inspired” by crimes committed by white supremacists, including the 2019 massacre of 51 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The newspaper Buffalo News even revealed that an insulting, racist and taboo word in the United States to designate black people had been painted in white on the barrel of the weapon.
“It was domestic terrorism, plain and simple,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who traveled to Buffalo to attend the vigil.
– ‘Military-style execution’ –
Denouncing a “racist” act and a “military-style execution” linked to “white supremacy”, New York State Governor Katy Hochul expressed her anger and underlined the responsibility of social networks.
“Social networks allow this hatred to ferment and spread like a virus,” she said in Buffalo, her hometown.
In a statement, US President Joe Biden also denounced the attack on Saturday, recalling that “any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is contrary to everything we stand for in America. “.
This racist killing recalls two others: a massacre on August 3, 2019 when a 21-year-old far-right activist killed 23 people, including eight Mexicans and “Hispanic” people in El Paso, Texas; and when on June 17, 2015 a white supremacist killed nine African-American worshipers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
In both cases, hateful manifestos had been posted online before the attacks.
Shootings and murders in public places are almost daily in the United States and gun crime is on the rise in major cities such as New York, Chicago, Miami or San Francisco, especially since the 2020 pandemic.
Several initiatives by elected officials to strengthen gun laws have failed in Congress in recent years, with the powerful NRA gun lobby remaining highly influential.