Unfortunately, this is America.
Yet another preventable act of white supremacist gun violence has shaken the nation. The AP reports that on Saturday, an 18-year-old gunman opened fire on a predominantly Black crowd of shoppers at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York. The pre-meditated and meticulously planned attack left 10 dead and three others wounded. Of the 13 people shot, 11 victims are Black. Based on the shooter’s own words and digital footprint online, the devastating hate crime was intended to target and terrify Black communities specifically.
“This was pure evil. Straight up racially motivated, hate crime from somebody outside of our community — outside of the City of Good Neighbors, as the mayor said — coming into our community and trying to inflict evil upon us” said Erie County Sheriff John Garcia during a news conference.
The white nationalist killer arrived at the grocery store Saturday afternoon dressed in tactical gear and armed with a high-powered rifle. He opened fire in the parking lot, where he fatally shot three people and wounded another before entering the store. A Black security guard and former Buffalo police officer named Aaron Salter Jr. bravely returned fire but did not survive a shootout because only the domestic terrorist had bulletproof armor. Other known victims include 77-year-old Pearly Young and 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield.
Officials confirmed that the teen live-streamed the carnage on Twitch, which removed the feed “less than two minutes after the violence started,” according to a spokesperson for the platform. Similar to other racist mass murderers, he allegedly wrote that he was radicalized in extremist communities online and justified the mass shooting with the same anti-Black and anti-immigrant rhetoric regularly featured on conservative platforms like Fox News. Fear-mongering propaganda about minorities replacing the white population is a commonly held belief for those who are also violent against Muslim, Latinx, and Jewish people.
The dangerous and delusional published writing indicates that every detail of this tragedy was planned out well in advance to cause the most racist terror. Less than 24 hours after the incident, one of Google’s most popular searches is the distance from little-known Conklin, New York to Buffalo because the killer spent at least three hours traveling to this particular grocery store more than 200 miles from his home. He reportedly targeted planned to target a predominantly Black community where gun laws were too strict for victims to challenge his firepower. The brief and horrifically graphic video that was broadcast online showed that he wrote both “n***er” and a Nazi reference on the barrel of the assault weapon.
Somehow the boys in blue took the well-armed mass murderer into custody alive after they talked him down in a standoff. It’s amazing how gently he was embraced by police in a city that does not keep that same energy at protests against police violence. Buffalo police are already notorious for their reckless brutality. A viral video from a 2020 George Floyd protest showed two Buffalo cops in riot gear, officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski, shove a 75-year-old White man named Martin Gugino so hard that he cracked his skull on the concrete and suffered a brain injury. Both officers were cleared of any wrongdoing on April 8, 2022.
The killer pled not guilty to the multiple counts of first-degree murder at an arraignment Saturday night. The Buffalo district attorney’s office plans to file additional charges against him according to CNN. The FBI is also “investigating the shooting as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” according to said FBI special agent Stephen Belongia.
Our deepest condolences go out to the victims, their loved ones, and everyone affected by this horrible tragedy.