The 18-year-old white gunman, who fatally shot 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, arrived a day early to perform reconnaissance with the aim of killing as many Black people as possible, police said. Payton Gendron surveyed the entire area and did his homework before going on the shooting spree, the city's police commissioner said.
The shocking news sparked outrage and grief in the primarily Black neighborhood surrounding Tops Friendly Market, where a number of people gathered to lead "Black lives matter" chants and mourn victims. They included an 86-year-old woman who had just returned from a nursing care visit with her husband and a security guard who shot the suspect multiple times.
Gendron knew exactly where and when to open fire as he had a blueprint of the area in his mind, according to the police. He knew everything about the Tops Friendly Market. "We know he did some reconnaissance on the area and in the store," Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a press conference on Sunday with Gov. Kathy Hochul and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
"He was in the Buffalo area. He was right in this area the day before," said Gramaglia, adding that once detectives gain access to the teen's GPS records and social media accounts, they will have a fuller timeline of his movements leading up to the mass murder.
"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," Gramaglia said.
Gendron allegedly drove 200 miles to the supermarket from his family's home in Conklin, New York. According to sources, he conducted extensive research into local demographics in order to target a primarily black community.
"Somebody filled his heart so full of hate that he would destroy and devastate our community," Rev. Denise Walden-Glenn said.
Gendron pleaded not guilty on Sunday after being produced in court. His parents too are being interviewed by Federal agents and multiple search warrants have been served, a law enforcement official said on Sunday.
This comes as it was revealed that Gendron had a previous run-in with the police last year.
According to investigators, the racially motivated attack occurred a year after the gunman was brought to a hospital by State Police after making threats against his high school.
He was not charged with a crime and was released from the hospital in less than a day and a half, according to police, but the revelation raised questions about his access to guns and whether he could have been monitored more closely.
The Buffalo attack prompted grief and anger in the predominantly Black neighborhood around Tops Friendly Market.
President Joe Biden, while speaking at the National Peace Officers' Memorial service at the U.S. Capitol on Sunday, said, "We must all work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America."
The president and the first lady will travel to Buffalo on Tuesday to "grieve with the community," according to the White House.
The shooting in Buffalo was the deadliest of several throughout the country in recent days. Following three separate shootings near an entertainment zone where thousands congregated Friday for an NBA playoff game, Milwaukee officials imposed a curfew. Three individuals were killed in three different shootings in the Midwest city over the weekend.