On Saturday afternoon, a man grabbed a gun from his car, where he had two other weapons stored, and opened fire on shoppers in and around a Buffalo Tops Friendly Markets store, killing 10 people and injuring three more.
The suspected gunman, named as Payton Gendron, 18, from Conklin, outside of Binghamton, used an assault-style rifle to carry out the attack, Buffalo police said, adding that he had a shotgun and a rifle in his car as well.
The act was a “racist hate crime,” based on evidence uncovered so far, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. The store is located in a neighborhood that has been primarily African-American for decades said Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democrat representing parts of Erie and Niagara Counties.
Eleven out of the 13 shooting victims were Black. Authorities are reviewing a graphic online manifesto which allegedly details the attacker’s racial views and the weapon he chose to use in the shooting, but has yet to be fully verified.
“This event will not define Buffalo,” New York’s Attorney General Letitia James said Sunday. “This event was committed by a sick demented individual who was fueled (by) a daily diet of hate.”
Gendron was arraigned Saturday night on one count of first degree murder, and officials said they would weigh additional charges in the coming days.
The primary weapon could offer a glimpse into the shooter’s headspace – It was inscribed with a racial epithet, said Higgins, citing law enforcement briefings.
Buffalo shooting live updates:Police say Payton Gendron threatened to attack his high school last year
More on the neighborhood:Buffalo shooting leaves a grieving, close-knit neighborhood with impossible questions
What do we know about the primary gun?
The weapon was an assault-style rifle with characteristics that made it legal in New York. It was similar to ones used in other high profile mass shootings, such as those at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and at a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee.
But the gun had been illegally modified after purchase, officials said.
How was the gun modified?
The semi-automatic weapon was modified with an illegal magazine, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday.
New York bars the sale of any magazine that has a capacity over 10 rounds.
Hochul said law enforcement was working to determine where the magazines used were acquired, but observed they could be purchased as close as Pennsylvania.
She didn’t elaborate on how many bullets the magazines could hold.
Large magazines, or those containing more than 10 rounds, played a role in at least 86 mass shootings since 1980, according to a report from the Violence Policy Center, a national nonprofit that advocates for gun control.
“Once again, a military-bred assault rifle equipped with a high-capacity ammunition magazine was used for the exact purpose for which it was designed: to kill and injure as many people as quickly and efficiently as possible,” VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann said in a statement Sunday.
Where and when did he get the rifle?
The gun was purchased at Vintage Firearms, a collectible firearms and ammunition store in Endicott, Broome County, about 20 minutes from the gunman’s hometown. The store buys and sells guns and ammunition, and sporadically used its Facebook business page to announce an acquisition of a large gun collection or various types of ammunition.
Requests for comment from the store’s owner, Robert Donald, on the shooting and the gun involved were not immediately returned.
Law enforcement officials would not offer specifics on when Gendron acquired the weapon. It was unclear how and when he purchased or acquired the other two guns in the car.
What are New York’s gun laws?
A person must be 21 or older to obtain a license to purchase a handgun in New York. But anyone 18 or older can purchase a long gun, like a rifle or shotgun, without a license, and someone can own a long gun at as young as 16. New York City requires permits for long guns and applicants must be 21 or over.
New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, passed in 2013, tightened the state’s gun laws by imposing universal federal background checks on sales from licensed gun dealers, as well as on private sales or transfers, except between immediate family members.
The law also banned the sale of assault weapons, defined as a semi-automatic rifle, pistol or shotgun with one or more specific characteristics, including types of magazines, stocks or grips. New Yorkers already possessing those weapons before the SAFE Act passed had to register them with the state, or permanently modify them to ensure they were no longer assault weapons.
Donald, of Vintage Firearms, told the New York Times that the gun he sold Gendron complied with New York law, and that Gendron’s background check didn’t turn up anything of concern.
Includes reporting from the Democrat and Chronicle and USA Today.
Sarah Taddeo is the New York State Team Editor for the USA Today Network. Got a story tip or comment? Contact Sarah at [email protected] or on Twitter @Sjtaddeo. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Please consider becoming a digital subscriber.