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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Buffalo shooting: gunman allegedly did reconnaissance of area before rampage | Buffalo shooting

As Buffalo, New York, mourns the victims of a mass shooting at a supermarket Saturday that left 10 dead and three wounded, details are emerging about the shooter’s movements before the attack and how the devastating racist attack unfolded.

The 18-year-old shooter, who is a self-confessed white supremacist, shot 11 Black and two white victims in a “racially motivated hate crime” authorities said. It plunged the mostly Black Buffalo East Side neighborhood into grief and shock.

But the plotting of the attack happened many miles away, had likely been in development for months and even apparently involved a reconnaissance of the targeted area.

The shooter is believed to have traveled about 200 miles (320km ) from his home of Conklin, New York, to Buffalo but signs of trouble had surrounded him for some time. One year ago, he was the subject of a law enforcement investigation, according to The Buffalo News.

High school authorities in Broome county, New York called the police in June 2021, claiming that he had “threatened violence in comments made to fellow students”.

“A school official reported that this very troubled young man had made statements indicating that he wanted to do a shooting, either at a graduation ceremony, or sometime after,” the newspaper reported, citing a government source. The state police were dispatched to investigate and he was referred for counseling and a mental health assessment.

Officials have said that the shooter purchased his gun legally in New York. He did not purchase the high-capacity magazine in this state, they said.

Flowers are left at a makeshift memorial outside of Tops market in Buffalo, New York, after a gunman opened fire, killing 10 people and wounding another three, on Saturday.
Flowers are left at a makeshift memorial outside of Tops market in Buffalo, New York, after a gunman opened fire, killing 10 people and wounding another three, on Saturday. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The purported shooter recently purchased a Bushmaster XM-15, an assault weapon in the style of an AR-15, from Vintage Firearms, a gun shop in Endicott, New York, the New York Times reported.

Robert Donald, the store’s owner, told The Times that he conducted a background check on the alleged shooter, and that nothing turned up. “He didn’t stand out – because if he did, I would’ve never sold him the gun,” he told the newspaper.

A lengthy racist manifesto surfaced online after the shooting, and the writer’s name matches that of the alleged shooter. The text indicated that the writer planned his steps “down to the minute”, including diagrams inside the Tops Friendly Market.

This manifesto, the validity of which has not been confirmed by authorities, said that the supermarket was selected because the postal code had the highest percentage of Black people close to where he lived, WIVB reported.

The author stated that he had considered such an attack for several years, but started planning in earnest this January.

Meanwhile, police say that the shooter “was in the Buffalo area at least the day before”.

“It seems that he had come here to scope out the area, to do a little reconnaissance work on the area before he carried out his just evil, sickening act,” Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said on This Week With George Stephanopoulos.

Buffalo’s mayor, Byron Brown, further described the gunman’s alleged reconnaissance in an interview with CNN. “It sounds like he was here for maybe several days from reports that I’ve been hearing and that he did surveil this community, was scouting the supermarket, actually talked to some people in the area,” Brown said.

The shooter arrived at Tops around 2.30pm, authorities said. He wore military garb and body armor, as well as a “tactical helmet”, according to ABC News. His rampage began in the store’s parking lot.

Video shows him arriving at the store with a gun on the front seat. He then trained his gun on people in the parking lot, as he exited his vehicle, and started shooting.

“He had a camera that he was livestreaming what he was doing,” police commissioner Gramaglia, told reporters.

He shot four people outside the store, local prosecutors said. Three died.

The gunman then entered the grocery. Aaron Salter, a recently retired Buffalo police department lieutenant, shot at the gunman in an attempt to stop him.

While Salter was able to hit the shooter, he was protected by his tactical gear, authorities said. The shooter killed Salter.

The gunman then shot eight more people inside of the grocery. Six died, and two were injured, prosecutors said.

Four victims worked at the store, authorities said.

Buffalo police arrived at the store and confronted the shooter inside the vestibule. “At that point the suspect put the gun to his own neck. Buffalo police personnel – 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,” Gramaglia said.

The shooter appeared in court hours later, where he wore a white hospital gown. He was arraigned on one first-degree murder count, and was held without bail. He pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, scores of law enforcement agents arrived at the shooter’s parents home, where he lived, hours after the shooting, according to WIVB. The shooter’s parents were cooperating with authorities.

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