BUFFALO, N.Y. —is now being investigated as a racially motivated hate crime.
In all, 13 people were shot. Of them, 11 were Black, CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reported Sunday.
A day ago, 10 lives were lost at the Tops supermarket. Many were just here trying to do their weekend grocery shopping.
Rincon spoke with one man who lost his brother. He said he was here buying a birthday cake for his 3-year-old son.
“My brother came to celebrate his son’s birthday. He came here to buy him cake. Now, I have no brother. He has no father. Is that fair? So the feelings? I don’t know what they are,” Dyonne Elliott said.
Elliott lives two hours away. He said he got a call Saturday night that his brother was among the victims.
“My brother wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t great, but he changed his life. He was a good man. He was a good father to him. He was not a bad guy, and he was all I had left,” Elliott said.
Elliott’s family isn’t the only one grieving. Ruth Whitfield, 86, died at the supermarket. She was the mother of Buffalo’s retired fire commissioner, Garnell Whitfield. He showed up as part of the response.
As the chaos was unfolding, Jerome Bridges was inside working.
“I was in aisle 14 putting up tags for our next week’s sale. That’s when I heard the shots being fired inside the store,” Bridges said. “I grabbed my produce manager, my night ops manager, and like four or five customers, told them to get in the conference room, and I barricaded the door.”
The suspect was arrested moments after the shooting. Payton Gendron, 18, was charged with first-degree murder. He plead not guilty, and will be back in court on Thursday. For now, officials say he’s on suicide watch. The FBI is investigating the mass shooting as a hate crime.
“The evidence that we have uncovered so far makes no mistake this is an absolute racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime. This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul, and mind, and there is no mistake that this is the direction that this is going in,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said.
Mayor Byron Brown said.
“Someone drove from hundreds of miles away. Someone not from this community that did not know this community that came to take as many Black lives as possible,” Brown said.
On Sunday, Rincon also learned the suspect was taken into custody last year for threatening to shoot up his high school. He was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation.
Despite all that, police say he was still able to purchase the weapons used in Saturday’s attack legally.