WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden urged his nation on Sunday to reject the “repugnant white nationalist ideology”, a day after a white teenager killed 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly black neighbourhood in Buffalo, New York. Eleven of the 13 people struck by gunfire were black. The two others were white.
“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America,” President Biden said in his message.
“Hate must have no safe harbour. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”
Earlier on Sunday, the US Justice Department also confirmed that it was “investigating this matter as a hate crime and as an act of racially-motivated violent extremism”.
Eleven of 13 people struck by gunfire were black; Biden says ‘hate must have no safe harbour’
On Saturday, an 18-year-old white teenager drove to the Tops supermarket in Buffalo and opened fire at the patrons, killing 10 people and wounding three.
Later, the local police identified the gunman as Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, New York, who drove more than 200 miles to a predominantly black neighborhood.
Authorities said the teenager has also authored a manifesto, hailing the supremacy of the white race.
Police Commissioner Gramaglia said the suspect was heavily armed, wearing tactical gear, and a camera that he used to livestream the shooting.
When police matched his name with their data, they discovered that the suspect had authored a 180-page manifesto that surfaced online shortly after the attack and took credit for the violence in the name of white supremacy.
CNN reported that it obtained a portion of the livestream that showed him driving into the supermarket’s parking lot. The shooter, seen in the rearview mirror wearing a helmet, was heard saying, “Just got to go for it” before he pulled into the front of the store.
In the video, customers were seen walking through the parking lot as the suspect drove up. The suspect then shot four people in the store’s parking lot. Three of those individuals died and one survived.
The suspect then walked into the market and began random shooting.
“We still need to learn more about the motivation for the shooting,” President Biden said, “but we don’t need anything else to state a clear moral truth: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation”.
Local and federal law-enforcement officials said the suspect appeared to have acted alone and he used a real time, social media platform Twitch to broadcast the shooting. Twitch is a live video service owned by Amazon.com.
The suspect’s town Conklin has about 5,000, mainly working-class white people, on the borders of New York and Pennsylvania states.
He was arraigned hours after the shooting in a New York state court on first-degree murder charges, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole, said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. New York has no capital punishment.
The judge ordered Gendron to remain in custody without bail and to undergo a “forensic examination”. Gendron is scheduled to return to court on May 19.
Local media reports said the suspect was a student at the State University of New York’s Broome Community College. When confronted by officers at the store, the suspect held a gun to his own neck, but police officers talked him into surrendering.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2022