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Federal authorities are investigating the massacre in Buffalo as a potential hate crime. Law enforcement officials also reported Monday that the accused gunman had planned to continue his shooting spree at another location if he had escaped. That news came as communities in Buffalo mourned the losses from an attack that claimed 10 lives. All were black. Special correspondent Cat Wise reports.
Federal authorities are investigating the weekend massacre in Buffalo as a potential hate crime.
Law enforcement officials also reported today that the accused gunman had planned to continue his shooting spree at another location if he had escaped. That news came as communities in Buffalo mourned the losses from an attack that claimed 10 lives. All were Black.
Special correspondent Cat Wise has our report.
Today, as the community of Buffalo, New York, learned more about a gunman's racist shooting rampage at a supermarket over the weekend, the reality was setting in.
Eddie Colbert has lived in the area for 50 years. He's suddenly fearful of his usual routines and visits to local stores.
Eddie Colbert, East Buffalo Resident:
Thinking about the fact that it could be me or anybody else going in or coming out of the next door, you know? So this is something. And it's going to be scary for anybody now, because we don't know if there's any other haters that's out there that's going to copy this.
Tops Market sees heavy foot traffic from residents nearby, as one of the only grocery stores in the predominantly Black neighborhood.
Keyshanti Atkinson was working as a cashier when the gunman entered. She hid in a conference room and is still reeling from the experience.
Keyshanti Atkinson, Tops Cashier:
During the incident, I was scared because I didn't know if I — I didn't know if he was going to find us and just shoot all of — shoot us. And I didn't know nothing. I just — but, now, I mean, I'm still a little bit scared, because this was supposed to be a safe — safe environment.
The attack happened on Saturday here at the top supermarket on Buffalo's East Side. The alleged gunman drove about 200 miles from his hometown to the parking lot behind me armed with an assault rifle.
Today, law enforcement officials remained at the scene, poring over the evidence. The 18-year-old gunman livestreamed the shooting from a helmet camera to a small audience on the platform Twitch. He shot 13 people, killing 10 of them. Of his victims, 11 were Black.
The Buffalo police commissioner made clear he was targeting them.
Joseph Gramaglia, Buffalo, New York, Police Chief:
The evidence that we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime.
Payton Gendron, who ultimately surrendered to police after putting a weapon to his neck, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. Gramaglia told CNN today the gunman had planned to continue his rampage, possibly at another supermarket.
The Buffalo massacre is reminiscent of other racist attacks, including a 2015 mass shooting at a Black church in Charleston, and another in 2019 at a Walmart in a predominantly Hispanic area of El Paso, Texas. And it's left families like Ruth Whitfield's in agonizing grief. Whitfield, one of the victims, was shopping after visiting her husband in a nursing home.
Going to Tops was a daily ritual for her. She was 86 years old.
Garnell Whitefield Jr., Son of Shooting Victim: We have no answers. What do we tell our father? We don't even know — he doesn't know. What do we tell him? How do we tell him the love of his life, his primary caretaker…
Another victim, Kat Massey, was an advocate for civil rights and education. She wrote to local news outlets last year calling for federal regulation of firearms. She was 72 years old.
Reverend Denise Walden-Glenn has been providing comfort to her community. She works for Voice Buffalo, an interfaith racial justice and equity organization.
Rev.Denise Walden-Glenn, Voice Buffalo:
Our community is hurting. Our community is devastated. As much as we try not to struggle with the spirit of fear, people are scared. People are scared. People are scared to leave their homes.
People are scared to go into public spaces. Children are afraid to return to school. They're afraid for their parents to go to work or their caregivers to go to work. People are afraid.
Officials say the gunman subscribed to a racist ideology known as the Great Replacement Theory that's made its way from the fringes of the Internet into mainstream discourse on the right.
It's a belief in the false theory that there's a plot by nonwhite people to replace the power and influence of white people. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump blames the gunman and those who influenced him to commit the act.
Benjamin Crump, Civil Rights Attorney:
All these people who are talking about this race Replacement Theory, radicalizing these young, impressionable minds to go out and do irrational acts, because they know they have an irrational audience.
Police were called to his high school last June after he made threatening remarks. But, after a brief mental health evaluation, he was free to go.
The impacts of that release are now reverberating throughout the city and the country.
Garnell Whitefield Jr.:
This is our mother. This is our lives. We need help. We're asking you to help us. Help us change this. This is — this can't keep happening.
The president and first lady will make a trip to Buffalo tomorrow to meet with families and see the grieving community firsthand.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Cat Wise in Buffalo, New York.
Watch the Full Episode
Sam Lane is reporter/producer in PBS NewsHour's segment unit.
Mike Fritz is a video journalist and producer for the PBS NewsHour.
Frank Carlson is a general assignment producer at the PBS NewsHour, where he's been making video since 2010. @frankncarlson
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