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Buffalo suspect had plans to continue his killing rampage: Commissioner

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old who allegedly gunned down 10 people -- all of whom were Black -- at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, would have continued his rampage had he not been stopped, Buffalo Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told ABC News.

"We have uncovered information that if he escaped the [Tops] supermarket, he had plans to continue his attack," Gramaglia said. "He had plans to continue driving down Jefferson Ave. to shoot more Black people ... possibly go to another store [or] location."

Authorities are calling Saturday's massacre a "racially motivated hate crime."

"This was well-planned ... by a sick person," Gramaglia said.

Gendron -- who is from Conklin, New York, about 200 miles from Buffalo -- drove to Buffalo on March 8 and visited the Tops supermarket, according to a document obtained by ABC News. He was confronted by a security guard at the store as he was compiling detailed plans of the location.

The document included sketches of the store where he outlined different aisles and how he would navigate around quickly.

Gendron allegedly dropped off ammunition at his best friends house on Friday, the day before the shooting, Matthew Casado, 19, who has known Gendron since the second grade, told ABC News.

He allegedly showed up to Casado’s Conklin house unannounced, Casado, who described himself as one of Gendron's best friends, said. One of Casado's roommates let Gendron in around 8 a.m. and Gendron dropped off five boxes of ammo, Casado said.

Casado was away at work and later received a text from Gendron around 4:30 p.m saying that he, “put ammo cans in my room because he needed space to arrange in his house,” Casado said. Gendron said that he would come get the munitions around 7:30 p.m. that night but never showed up, Casado said.

Casado’s family later called the authorities and they picked up the ammo, he said.

Evidence points to Gendron self-radicalizing when the pandemic began, spending inordinate amounts of time engrossing himself on hate posts on social media, according to a senior law enforcement source briefed on the case.

Law enforcement assessed that in May 2020, the teen watched a 17-minute video of the gunman who attacked two mosques in New Zealand in 2019, killing 51 people.

In recent months and weeks, some of the items Gendron posted on social media became increasingly violent in tone, a senior law enforcement source said.

Some of the online postings of Payton Gendron that were part of the over-500 page document were written online in a private group chat on the social media platform Discord, sources told ABC News. It is unclear who had access to the group.

Discord is a popular platform mostly with high school students and has been used to spread conspiracy theories, said former Department of Homeland Security official and ABC News Consultant John Cohen.

The platform can be used to message users privately or as a public messaging board for other users to see, Thomas Holt, director and professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, told ABC News. It depends on the user profile to determine what type of privacy settings to have, he added.

"In these forums you can kind of act as you wish, and it just depends on the moderators of either subsection or the overall site to take action and that’s highly variable," Holt said of the platforms containing message boards Gendron allegedly used, which include 4chan and 8chan as well.

FBI Director Christopher Wray described the shooting as a "targeted attack" and a "hate crime" during a conference call Monday with faith leaders, civil rights leaders, as well as private sector and local, state and federal law enforcement partners.

Wray offered his deepest condolences to the victims and their families and to the entire community of Buffalo for what he called a “despicable attack.”

"I want to be clear, for my part, from everything we know, this was a targeted attack, a hate crime, and an act of racially motivated violent extremism,” said Wray said "While there remain a lot of unknowns as there always do in an investigation at this stage, what is absolutely certain is that we at the FBI are committed to comprehensively and aggressively investigating Saturday’s attack."

Wrap continued, "Racially motivated violence will not be tolerated in this country."

Officers responded to Saturday's shooting within one minute and when they approached the suspect, the teen put his assault rifle to his neck, according to the commissioner.

The commissioner praised the responding officers who he said deescalated the situation and convinced the gunman to drop his weapon, saving countless lives.

Multiple high-capacity magazines were recovered on Gendron and in his car, the commissioner said. While he declined to say what evidence pointed to additional shooting plans, the commissioner said investigators have been going through his phone and other electronics.

Police determined Gendron arrived in Buffalo on Friday via license plate reader and other evidence, the commissioner said. Police are still working to determine where he stayed overnight before Saturday's attack.

Shonnell Harris Teague, an operations manager at Tops, said she saw Gendron sitting on a bench outside of the store on Friday afternoon. She said he was there for several hours with a camper bag on his back, dressed in the same camouflage outfit he wore Saturday.

She said Gendron entered the store Friday evening, and appeared as if he was bothering customers. Teague asked him to leave and he did so without an argument.

The next time Teague saw him was on Saturday as a mass shooting unfolded at her store. She escaped out of the back when she saw Gendron.

"I see him with his gear on and his gun and how it was all strapped on. ... I seen all the other bodies on the ground. ... It was just a nightmare," she said.

Multiple Buffalo officials are urging community members, including children, to take advantage of mental health resources in the wake of the tragedy.

President Joe Biden is expected to meet with victims and their relatives during his trip to Buffalo Tuesday to offer them comfort and "grieve with them," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Gendron has been arraigned on one count of first-degree murder and is due back in court on May 19.

Gendron underwent a mental health evaluation after he expressed a desire last June to carry out a murder-suicide. But he was still able to legally buy the semiautomatic rifle police said was used in the attack because no criminal charges resulted from his encounter with New York State Police.

Gramaglia told ABC News the nature of Gendron’s threat last June was "generalized" and included nothing specific.

Meanwhile, a Buffalo man, Joseph Chowaniec, has been charged with making terroristic threats after he allegedly referenced the supermarket shooting during threatening phone calls to a pizzeria and a brewery on Sunday, the Erie County District Attorney's Office said.

"Let this case send a message," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said Monday. "He's facing seven years in jail -- and that's what anyone in the public is gonna face if … they want to reference the awful tragedy at Tops."

Chowaniec, 52, was arraigned on Monday and is set to return to court on May 20.

ABC News' Pierre Thomas, Luke Barr and Miles Cohen contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Document appears to show Buffalo shooter's planning including March trip to supermarket

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- An online document obtained by ABC News appears to chronicle how Payton Gendron carefully planned out his attack at least two months before he allegedly shot and killed 10 people at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, according to law enforcement sources.

According to the document, Gendron, on March 8, drove to Buffalo and visited the supermarket, where he was questioned by a security guard at the store as he was compiling detailed plans of the location.

The 589-page document, which is separate from the 180-page hate-filled screed Gendron is alleged to have posted online just before the massacre, includes sketches of the supermarket, including the makeup of different aisles, with notes on how to navigate around quickly.

Law enforcement officials are investigating the document's origins and authenticity as they try to determine who may have had access to it.

Sources tell ABC News that the document is a compilation of messages posted to the online community platform Discord starting in 2021.

According to the Washington Post, which was first to report on the document, it was uploaded to the file-sharing site MediaFire by an anonymous user on April 29, and was accessible until Monday. The document was deleted shortly after the Post contacted the platform for comment, the Post said.

On a conference call Tuesday with state and local partners, law enforcement officials said that Gendron began posting threads to Discord regarding body armor in the summer of 2021, according to a source familiar with the phone call. In April of 2022, the threads also taunted federal law enforcement, officials on the call said.

ABC News Consultant and former Department of Homeland Security official John Cohen said Discord is commonly used by high school kids and gamers.

"Because the creator of a chat group has control over content, it has also increasingly become a platform of choice for violent extremists," Cohen said.

It is unclear who, if anyone, had access to these posts.

The document details Gendron's interactions with what he describes as a black armed security guard during his March visit to the supermarket.

According to authorities, a security guard was killed during Saturday's attack after firing at Gendron, who was protected by body armor.

Another post describes the Tops supermarket as the first location to be targeted, and goes on to list two other nearby locations to possibly attack, including a deli and a barbershop.

In a bulletin published Monday by the New York Police Department and obtained by ABC News, officials said this type of online communication "underscores that an online connection to an extremist culture and ideology through social media, online gaming platforms, or anonymous message boards like 4chan, can be equally effective in mobilizing individuals to violence as connections to real-world groups."

"Online gaming platforms, in particular Twitch and Discord, have become popular social media alternatives for far-right extremists due to minimal content moderation, as opposed to more mainstream social media platforms," the NYPD bulletin said.

Thomas Holt, director and professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, told ABC News that the content in these platforms has "changed over time" and that "some groups have radicalized more than others."

Some extremist users prefer the platforms because the rules governing content are left to individual moderators, said Holt.

"In these forums you can kind of act as you wish, and it just depends on the moderators of either the subsection or the overall site to take action -- and that's highly variable," Holt said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


First all-Black team summits Everest

Full Circle Everest via Instagram

(NEW YORK) -- The first all-Black Mount Everest expedition team, Full Circle Everest, has reached the summit of the highest mountain on Earth, and their excitement can be felt from thousands of feet below.

The seven climbers who reached the summit include Manoah Ainuu, Eddie Taylor, Rosemary Saal, Demond “Dom” Mullins, Thomas Moore, James “KG” Kagami and Evan Green.

According to the team, their success nearly doubles the number of Black climbers who have climbed the mountain, which stands at more than 29,000 feet high.

“I am deeply honored to report that seven members of the Full Circle Everest team reached the summit on May 12," said Full Circle Everest leader Philip Henderson. "While a few members, including myself, did not summit, all members of the climb and Sherpa teams have safely returned to Base Camp where we will celebrate this historic moment!”

This trek lures hundreds of climbers each year, but few Black climbers have made the trip. For these climbers, the treacherous climb represented the barriers Black communities face in accessing outdoor sports and spaces.

They hope to inspire the next generation of Black athletes, climbers and mountaineers to take themselves to new heights.

"My big goal with this project is to help demystify the process of climbing your Everest; it doesn't necessarily need to be Everest," Abby Dione, a member of Full Circle Everest, told ABC News.

Similarly, Eddie Taylor, another climber on the team, also hopes to be an inspiration for future outdoor sports athletes.

"Everest is still gonna be hard. It's still going to be this big mountain, but it's going to be something that you don't feel like it's unattainable.

The team tracked their journey on Flipgrid, as people from all across the world cheered on the history-making team.

The team was led by local Sherpa climbing guides, who help hundreds of mountaineers up Everest. The Full Circle Everest team said they could not have made this historic climb without their guidance.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


From Buffalo to Houston, 8 US cities rocked by violent weekend of shootings

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A grocery store, a park, a church and a flea market were among the locations where gunfire erupted over the weekend in eight U.S. cities, leaving at least 65 people shot, 17 fatally.

The shootings came over a violent 72-hour stretch and included multiple victims in all of the episodes, prompting elected leaders in two of the cities to impose new curfews.

The most devastating incident occurred Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, New York, when a white man wielding an AR-15-style rifle allegedly shot 13 people, 10 fatally, at a supermarket in what investigators suspect was a "racially motivated hate crime" targeting Black people.

21 injured in Milwaukee
The weekend of violence began Friday night in Milwaukee when 21 people were shot in three separate incidents that occurred in the downtown Deer District, where an estimated crowd of 11,000 people had gathered outside the Fiserv Forum to cheer on the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA team's playoff game against the Boston Celtics.

Milwaukee police said a confrontation broke out on the street between two groups and led to an exchange of gunfire that left 17 people injured. Over the next two-hour period, two other shootings left four additional people wounded.

One person, a 19-year-old man, was taken into custody, police said.

As a result of the shootings, city leaders imposed an 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. temporary curfew on Saturday and Sunday in the downtown entertainment area for people under 21 years old and threatened anyone caught breaking curfew with a $691 fine.

5 shot, 2 fatally, in Dallas
Just as bars and nightclubs were closing around 2 a.m. Friday in Dallas' Deep Ellum entertainment district, gunfire erupted, police said. Five people were shot, two fatally, near a barbecue truck where people were lined up, police said.

The Dallas Police Department said the shooting started when a man standing on the sidewalk near the barbecue was confronted by two other men. Police said the men all drew firearms and fired at each other, leaving all three men wounded as well as two innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire.

No arrests have been announced.

Buffalo mass shooting leaves 10 dead
A Tops Supermarket was busy with shoppers when an 18-year-old white man wearing camouflage clothing, a helmet, body armor and armed with a Bushmaster XM-15 semiautomatic rifle allegedly shot 13 people, 10 fatally. Investigators believe the assailant, who surrendered to police, was motivated by hate and was aiming to kill as many Black people as possible.

Police said 11 of the 13 people shot were Black, including the 10 killed.

3 shot, 1 fatally, in and around Chicago's Millennium Park
A 16-year-old boy was fatally shot in the chest around 7:30 p.m. Saturday near "The Bean" sculpture in Chicago Millennium Park, a major tourist attraction.

A 17-year-old boy, allegedly armed with a ghost gun, a weapon with no serial number and can't be traced, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Police said the shooting happened as hundreds of unruly teens took over Millennium Park and began flooding nearby the streets, where two other young people were shot and wounded. Chicago police said 26 minors and five adults were arrested in the park for unlawful disturbances Saturday evening and that officers seized eight guns.

The shooting prompted Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to declare a curfew barring juveniles 17 and under who are unaccompanied by an adult from entering Millennium Park after 6 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.

5 shot, 1 fatally, at church in Orange County, California
One person was killed and five were wounded in a shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, California, on Sunday, authorities said.

Four people were critically hurt and one person suffered minor injuries from the shooting inside the Geneva Presbyterian Church, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office. All victims are adults and range in age from 66 to 92, the sheriff's office said.

On Monday, the Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said evidence indicates the shooting was a "politically motivated hate crime" against the Taiwanese community. Four of the five victims in the shooting held Taiwanese citizenship, the sheriff's office said.

The suspect, identified Monday through Orange County jail records as 68-year-old Las Vegas resident David Chou, was detained by churchgoers who hogtied his legs and held him for police, authorities said.

7 shot in Winston-Salem
Seven people were injured near a park in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when a fight broke out around 8 p.m. Sunday and multiple people fired more than 50 shots, including bullets that hit two men in a moving car on nearby Highway 52.

No arrests have been made.

5 shot, 1 fatally, in Amarillo, Texas
Five people were shot, one fatally, when gunfire broke out early Sunday at an after-hours club in Amarillo, Texas, police said.

The Amarillo Police Department said there were possibly 75 to 100 people inside the club when the shooting began. Police said they are investigating whether the shooting is related to another shooting that occurred earlier Sunday at a different nightclub.

No arrests have been made.

5 shot, 2 fatally, at Houston flea market
A fight between two groups of people led to a shooting Sunday that left two men dead and three others hurt at a busy Houston flea market, where thousands of people were shopping, authorities said.

The incident unfolded around 1 p.m. at the popular Sunny Flea Market held at the Tia Pancha Center in North Houston, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

All five people shot were involved in a fight and several are suspected of allegedly pulling guns and firing, sparking panic and causing innocent bystanders, including children, to run or dive for cover, the sheriff's office said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


One killed, five wounded in shooting at California church: Authorities

Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(LAGUNA WOODS, Calif.) -- The deadly shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, California, on Sunday, was motivated by the political tension between China and Taiwan, authorities said Monday.

One person was killed and five were wounded, four critically, in the shooting inside the Geneva Presbyterian Church, the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

All victims are adults and range in age from 66 to 92 years old, the sheriff's office said.

A group of churchgoers detained the suspect and hogtied his legs with an extension cord and confiscated two handguns from him before more people could be shot, according to Jeff Hallock, Undersheriff at the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

"That group of churchgoers displayed what we believed exceptional heroism, heroism and bravery in interfering or intervening to stop the suspect," Hallock said.

The two victims taken to Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California, are now in good condition, the hospital said Monday.

The suspect was identified Monday in Orange County jail records as 68-year-old Las Vegas resident David Chou. He is expected to be charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder and is being held on $1 million bail, jail records show.

The suspect secured the doors and tried to super glue the locks so victims could not leave, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Monday. Law enforcement found more ammunition and Molotov cocktails placed around the church.

The FBI has opened a federal hate crimes investigation into the shooting.

Chou is Chinese but an American citizen, officials said. He lived alone in Las Vegas and has a wife and child who are not living in the U.S.

Authorities believe Chou's anger began when he lived in Taiwan, where he felt he was an outsider, and his anti-Taiwan views were not accepted, Barnes said.

Chou's wife and son still live in Taiwan, but Chou has lived alone in the U.S. for many years, Barnes said, adding that Chou's views have become more radical as tensions between China and Taiwan have escalated.

Investigators found writings in Chou's car that described his hatred for Taiwan, Barnes said, adding that they were not a manifesto, but rather "notes." Authorities hypothesize that Chou may have targeted the Orange County church because it was the closest, Barnes said.

The shooting occurred during a lunch banquet being held at the church, which caters to the Taiwanese population in Southern California.

"The Presbytery of Los Ranchos is deeply saddened by a fatal shooting that occurred at a lunch reception honoring a former pastor of the Taiwanese congregation that nests at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods," Tom Cramer, Presbytery head of staff, said in a statement Sunday. "Please keep the leadership of the Taiwanese congregation and Geneva in your prayers as they care for those traumatized by this shooting."

China has long held that Taiwan is part of its country, while Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation dating back to when Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek fled the mainland as the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949.

The shooting was reported at about 1:26 p.m. local time, authorities said.

There were 30 to 40 people inside the church when the shooting began, officials said.

Dr. John Cheng, 52, a prominent doctor in the area, was identified as the only person killed in the attack. He is being called a hero for saving lives. He charged the suspect and tried to disarm him allowing others to jump in, Barnes said. During the process, Cheng was shot and killed. Without his actions, the sheriff and FBI believes there would have been more people shot.

The two handguns found at the scene were legally purchased by Chou in Las Vegas, investigators said.

ABC News' Alex Stone contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


FDA, Abbott agree on plan to resume production of infant formula at Michigan plant

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- The Food and Drug Administration and Abbott Nutrition have agreed on a plan to resume operations at its infant formula facility in Sturgis, Michigan, the company announced on Monday.

While the news will be welcomed by frustrated dealing who are struggling find formula on shelves, it still could be several more weeks before they see relief.

According to Abbott, the agreement with the FDA lays out "the steps necessary to resume production and maintain the facility” but remains subject to court approval. Abbott said that once the FDA gives it the official green light, it could restart operations at the site within two weeks and that it would take six to eight weeks after that before the product is back on shelves.

"Our number one priority is getting infants and families the high-quality formulas they need, and this is a major step toward re-opening our Sturgis facility so we can ease the nationwide formula shortage. We look forward to working with the FDA to quickly and safely re-open the facility," said Robert B. Ford, chairman and chief executive officer of Abbott.

It’s estimated that Abbott Nutrition is one of only four companies that controls 90 percent of the market. The industry was already dealing with supply chain issues when federal inspectors found evidence of a deadly bacteria at the Sturgis plant and shut it down.

Abbott maintains that there is still no evidence linking its formula to four infant illnesses, which included two deaths.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Suspect arrested in disappearance, murder of teen who went missing during spring break 2009

Georgetown County Sheriff's Office

(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) -- Investigators in South Carolina have made a significant break in the case of a teen who went missing in 2009 while vacationing for spring break.

A suspect in the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel, who disappeared in 2009 after traveling to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for spring break, has been arrested and charged with her murder after her remains were found in a wooded area in Georgetown County, South Carolina, last week, authorities announced at a news conference Monday.

"In the last week, we've confirmed that Brittanee lost her life in a tragic way, at the hands of a horrible criminal who was walking our streets," said FBI special agent in charge Susan Ferensic.

Drexel was last seen on the night of April 25, 2009, as she was leaving a friend's room at the Blue Water Resort to walk back to the hotel where she was staying -- about a mile-and-a-half walk down the busy Myrtle Beach strip, ABC Rochester station WHAM reported.

She was about halfway to her destination when she is presumed to have disappeared, investigators believe, based on surveillance footage from cameras on 11th Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.

The suspect, Raymond Moody, 62, allegedly buried Drexel's dead body, said Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver. Her remains were found less than 3 miles from a motel where Moody had been living at the time of Drexel's disappearance, Weaver said.

Moody is being held without bond at the Georgetown County jail and is expected to be charged with rape, murder and kidnapping -- in addition to a charge of obstruction of justice that he was initially brought in for, said Jimmy Richardson, solicitor for Horry and Georgetown Counties.

Authorities did not answer reporters' questions on how Drexel's remains were found or what in the investigation led them to believe Moody was a suspect. In 2012, he had been identified as a person of interest in the disappearance, but there was not enough evidence to name him as a suspect, officials said.

Investigators believe Drexel was held against her will and killed.

Drexel's parents, Dawn Pleckan and Chad Drexel, were in attendance at the press conference. There, they asked for privacy and thanked investigators and volunteers for their work over the past decade.

"This is truly a mother's worst nightmare," Pleckan said. "I am mourning my beautiful daughter Brittanee as I have been for 13 years. But today, it's bittersweet. We are much closer to the closure in the piece that we have been desperately hoping for."

Drexel would have been 30 years old on Monday, WHAM reported.

ABC News' Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Victims of deadly Houston flea market shooting were involved in gunfight: Officials

KTRK-TV

(HOUSTON) -- A fight between two groups of people led to a shooting Sunday that left two men dead and three others hurt at a busy Houston flea market, where thousands of people were shopping, authorities said.

The incident unfolded around 1 p.m. at the popular Sunny Flea Market held at the Tia Pancha Center in North Houston, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

All five people shot were involved in a fight and several are suspected of allegedly pulling guns and firing, sparking panic and causing innocent bystanders, including children, to run or dive for cover, the sheriff's office said.

Deputies responding to the call found two men dead at the scene and three others critically wounded.

"A busy Sunday at the flea market with thousands of patrons when this incident went down," the sheriff's office said in a statement. "For now, it appears the wounded were all likely participants in the altercation."

The sheriff's office emphasized that the shooting was "not a random act of violence."

"There is a lot of people ... just trying to come out and enjoy the flea market, have something to eat and something to drink, so it's very tragic," said Maj. Susan Cotter, of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

No innocent bystanders were injured, Cotter said.

Two pistols were recovered at the scene, officials said.

Two possible suspects were detained at the scene and a third possible suspect was among those critically injured and taken to a hospital, according to the sheriff's office.

The investigation is ongoing. One man who was uninjured was arrested for his alleged role in the shooting and charged with tampering with evidence, the sheriff's office said. He was identified by the sheriff's office as 27-year-old Angel Flores-Lopez.

Sheriff's office investigators are combing over video and interviewing witnesses in an effort to identify the shooters, and determine what prompted the fight and shooting.

Family members of one of the men killed identified him as Juan Romero, 29, according to Houston ABC station KTRK-TV.

Romero's sister, Yeraldi Romero, told KTRK that her brother went to the flea market to enjoy his Sunday, like any other weekend. She said her brother was with their cousin, who was one of those wounded and hospitalized.

"This tragedy happened and I don't know why," Yeraldi Romero said. "He always made everyone laugh, very happy, joyful, so it just really hurts because he's my older brother and I look up to him. It's very hard."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Relatives of Buffalo shooting victim break down in tears: 'This shouldn't have happened'

ABC News

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- The relatives of 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, the oldest victim slain in this weekend's mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, were overcome with emotion at a news conference on Monday.

Ruth Whitfield was a loving wife of 68 years, a devoted mother of four children and a beloved grandmother, her family said.

She was among the 10 people, all of whom were Black, who were gunned down in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Authorities are calling Saturday's massacre a "racially motivated hate crime."

Through tears and hugs, her family gathered on Monday to speak to reporters alongside attorneys including civil rights attorney Ben Crump. One family member broke down and sobbed multiple times during the news conference.

Ruth Whitfield went to visit her husband every day in the nursing home where he's lived for eight years, one of her sons, Garnell Whitfield, a former Buffalo fire chief, told reporters.

He said he doesn’t know how to tell his father that his primary caretaker is gone.

"There's nothing we can do that’s going to take away the hurt, take away these tears, take away the pain, take away the hole in our hearts. Because part of us is gone," he said. "For her to be taken from us and taken from this world by someone that's just full of hate for no reason … it is very hard for us to handle right now."

He went on, "What I loved most about my mom is how she loved us, how she loved our family unconditionally. How she sacrificed everything for us."

Daughter Robin Whitfield said, "My mom was my best friend. We went fishing together, we went camping together."

To the shooter, she said, "How dare you?"

Daughter Angela called her mother an "86-year-old powerhouse. She was beautiful, she was immaculate and she loved us."

Garnell Whitfield added: "We're not just hurting -- we're angry … this shouldn’t have happened. We do our best to be good citizens … we believe in God, we trust him, we treat people with decency and we love even our enemies."

He called out U.S. leaders for not protecting them and said he's speaking out in hopes of contributing to positive change.

"We need help. We're asking you to help us, help us change this. This can't keep happening," he said.

Garnell Whitfield told ABC News on Sunday that his mother went to the nursing home nearly every day. It was important to her to be "taking care of him, making sure he was well cared for by the staff, washing, ironing his clothes, making sure he was dressed appropriately, making sure his nails were cut and clean and shaved," he said.

Even as her own health began to weaken, Ruth Whitfield still tried to visit her husband each day, taking days off only when she felt too debilitated to make the trip, her son said.

After suffering "a very difficult childhood," Ruth Whitfield "was all about family" when she became a mother, Garnell Whitfield said.

"And she rose above it, and she raised us in spite of all of that, being very poor," he said. "She raised us to be productive men and women."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Black Buffalo residents stand united in wake of shooting

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- The city of Buffalo, New York, is grieving following a mass shooting at a Tops supermarket that left 10 people dead and another three wounded on Saturday.

Resident Myles Carter was just a few blocks from the scene that day, and the sounds of his neighbors crying out in agony over the news has been replaying in his head since the attack.

"It's a heart-wrenching sound," Carter told ABC News. "I heard that sound over and over and over again, for a long period of time."

The attack, which authorities are calling a racially motivated hate crime, left the predominantly Black community shaken, residents say, but they remain strong in their efforts to take care of and protect one another in the face of white supremacy.

"We just need to go ahead and make plans to take care of ourselves because it is clear that these elected officials aren't going to do it," said Shaimaa Aakil, a community advocate in Buffalo.

A 180-page document believed to have been written by alleged shooter Payton Gendron describes racist motives behind the shooting, including "replacement theory," a white supremacist belief that non-whites will eventually replace white people because they have higher birth rates.

In the document, he allegedly said he planned to attack the supermarket because it's located in a predominantly Black neighborhood. It's one of the only grocery stores available in the area, residents told ABC News.

In response, people working with community fridges, funds and food drives are stepping up to ensure that residents are cared for following an attack intended to erase them.

Residents say some non-Black community members are offering to get groceries for their Black neighbors, while some are stepping up as security for places of worship and community centers.

Taking care of each other is something Buffalo residents know how to do well, according to Herbert L. Bellamy Jr., a Buffalo native who lives down the road from Tops.

Bellamy, who also is president of Buffalo Black Achievers, said the neighborhood-grown efforts bring him comfort, knowing the community he knows and loves is taking care of itself.

"We're a close-knit community, so we're in touch with everyone," Bellamy said. "We've worked hard to develop that neighborhood. Things like this can be a huge setback for our community, with a food desert and people not being able to shop for food."

And though the community's resilience is shining in this moment, others say they are tired of having to be resilient. They say real change needs to come from this moment.

"We shouldn't be responding to this," said Carter, who is also a local social justice activist. "We've got to fix the problems so that we don't have to have a community response."

The attack not only signaled the country's radical alt-right movement, but also highlighted the way white supremacy has permeated the community's basic functions, Carter said.

Residents ABC News spoke with say the fact that there are limited places to buy affordable, healthy food in a predominantly Black part of a highly segregated city highlights longstanding issues of race.

"Don't let them make you believe that this is a one-time issue, an isolated event," Aakil said. "A lot of elected officials right now are going to imply that this is not a problem that's bred here, that he is from four hours away. But Buffalo has a really deep problem with segregation."

The tragedy has spurred a city-wide movement against racism as locals call on leaders and citizens alike to address white supremacy in communities and institutions across the country.

"You feel it even though you're not here," Carter said. "If white supremacy can do this in the heart of liberal Buffalo, New York -- we got a Black mayor. We have Black people on our common council. We've got Black people in our Erie County legislator."

If it can happen there, he said, "it can happen anywhere in America."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Buffalo supermarket shooting reflects law enforcement's fears

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- Law enforcement officials say the Buffalo, New York, supermarket shooting has underscored their long-held fear that someone could be radicalized online, have access to guns, take inspiration from prior attacks and then carry out an act of murderous violence against a soft target, like a grocery store.

Ten people -- all of whom were Black -- were killed in Saturday's mass shooting in Buffalo in a rampage authorities are calling a "racially-motivated hate crime."

The 180-page document believed to have been written by the Buffalo suspect, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, includes praise for the 2015 mass shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina, church where nine Black parishioners were gunned down.

Evidence points to the Buffalo shooting being a calculated, racially-motivated execution by a teenager who appeared to have been targeting Black people, according to multiple sources and a review of FBI cases and testimony. The hate-filled document apparently written by Gendron includes the radical notion that white people are being replaced in the U.S.

The teen gunman allegedly wanted a race war and livestreamed the attack in an apparent effort to spur others to kill minorities, sources said.

Law enforcement has had mounting concerns about so-called lone wolf killers -- and white supremacists have been chief among them, sources said.

The FBI has warned that this trend has been increasing in violence: the 2015 Charleston church massacre targeting Black parishioners claimed nine lives; the 2018 mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue killed 11 people; and the 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, targeting Hispanics, took 23 lives.

According to the FBI, domestic extremists -- many of them racially motivated -- have killed more people in the U.S. than any other group since 9/11, including internationally-inspired terrorists.

"Over the last several years the U.S. has experienced a sustained level of violence by individuals who self-connect with extremist causes -- primarily through the consumption of online content -- and who, independent of a terrorist or extremist organization, will go out and engage in mass casualty, violent attacks," said ABC News contributor John Cohen, a former top official in the Department of Homeland Security.

Cohen noted several conditions that have converged to create this dangerous environment: the polarization of discourse in the U.S. where some people view those who disagree with them as the enemy; public figures mimicking violent extremists' words; and an online ecosystem "saturated with conspiracy theories and other information" published with "the intention of sowing discord and inspiring violence."

"Those are the conditions that have all come together to make ... the most volatile, complex and dynamic threat environment I've experienced in 38 years," Cohen warned. "It's those dynamics that have law enforcement very concerned that this is a trend that not only will continue, but get worse."

There's also the pandemic factor. A bulletin from Orange County, California, authorities last year highlighted the impressionable nature of young people who've been largely isolated during the pandemic and are "radicalized online by racially motivated violent extremist propaganda."

In Gendron's document, he claimed he settled on his beliefs through what he found on the internet and that there was little to no influence on his beliefs by people he knew in person. The person Gendron said radicalized him the most was the gunman who attacked two mosques in New Zealand in 2019, killing 51 people.

Gendron has been arraigned on one count of first-degree murder and is due back in court on May 19.

As the investigation continues, Sunday worshippers at predominantly Black churches in New York City can expect to see additional police patrols. The shooting caused police to move resources to Black churches "to provide a visible presence in the event of any copycat but moreover to provide an air of protection and safety who go to the larger houses of worship," the NYPD said.

The NYPD said there is no known threat to New York and described the shift of resources as a precaution.

ABC News' Jack Date, Alex Mallin and Quinn Owen contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Suspect fired 50 rounds in Buffalo supermarket hate crime shooting that killed 10: Police

Libby March for The Washington Post via Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- Ten people were killed and another three wounded when a mass shooting erupted at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, that authorities allege was a "racially motivated hate crime" carried out by heavily armed white teenager who fired a barrage of 50 shots outside and inside the market.

An 18-year-old male suspect is in custody, police said. The shooter livestreamed the Saturday afternoon attack on social media, authorities said.

The gunman, wearing military fatigues, body armor and a tactical helmet, shot four people in the parking lot of a Tops supermarket around 2:30 p.m., three fatally. He proceeded inside the store where he was confronted by a retired Buffalo police officer working security, police said.

The guard shot and struck the suspect but without effect due to the body armor, police said.

The gunman then proceeded to shoot nine more people inside the store, police said.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told ABC News on Sunday that police officers arrived at the store within one minute of getting the first report of the shooting in progress and raced toward the gunfire to confront the suspect.

Gramaglia said that upon seeing the officers, the assailant placed the barrel of an assault-type rifle up to his neck and threatened to shoot himself. He said officers were able to de-escalate the situation and talked the suspect into dropping the weapon.

"He had dropped down to his knees and began taking off his tactical gear and they immediately took them into custody," Gramagilia said.

Among the 13 victims shot, 11 were Black and two were white, authorities said.

Four of the shooting victims were store employees while the rest were customers, authorities said.

The Buffalo police officer working security was among those killed, according to a law enforcement official. He was identified as Aaron Salter Jr. by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

"He's a true hero," Gramagilia said of Salter. "He went down fighting. He went towards the gunfire."

Gramagilia said the suspect fired 50 shots during the attack and has several more loaded ammunition magazines when he was taken into custody.

Three victims suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, authorities said.

Brown ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff at city facilities, including police stations, fire stations and Niagara Square in the heart of Buffalo.

No other suspects are outstanding, a law enforcement official said.

The suspect -- identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York -- was arraigned Saturday on one count of first-degree murder and ordered held without bail, according to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. His office is also investigating terrorism charges, he said.

The suspect traveled from a New York county several hours away to the Buffalo store, authorities said.

Gramagilia said investigators believe the suspect arrived in Buffalo on Friday.

"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," Gramagilia said.  During a news conference Saturday, Mayor Brown described the shooting as "the worst nightmare any community can face."

Gendron legally purchased the AR-15 assault-style rifle used in the Buffalo supermarket shooting at a gun store in his home county of Broome, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul confirmed during an interview with ABC New York City station WABC.

The rifle was modified by what Hochul called an “enhanced magazine,” which is illegal in New York, Hochul said.

The FBI is separately investigating the attack as a hate crime and as racially motivated violent extremism.

Early indications are the shooter may have possessed extremist beliefs cultivated online, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

A 180-page document believed to have been posted on the internet by Gendron before he allegedly committed the massacre is a hate-filled screed fixated on the notion of "replacement theory," a white supremacist belief that non-whites will eventually replace white people because they have higher birth rates, according to a copy viewed by ABC News.

Gendron, the purported author of the document, embraces racist and anti-Semitic tropes throughout the document. He also included photos of himself and described why he decided to carry out the attack, largely focused on replacement theory.

Investigators are looking at multiple online postings that may be associated with the shooter that include praise for South Carolina church shooter Dylann Roof and the New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant, according to the document.

The document also includes a detailed plan for his alleged attack, stating time, place and manner. He allegedly even mapped out his planned route through the store and allegedly wrote that he targeted the Buffalo Tops market because it is a predominantly Black neighborhood, according to the document.

Gendron allegedly wrote that he understood he could be killed, but if he survived and goes to trial, he said he intends to plead guilty.

"This was pure evil," Erie County Sheriff John Garcia told reporters. "It was a straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community ... coming into our community and trying to inflict evil upon us."

During an interview Sunday on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos, Hochul said investigators probing Gendron's background have found other disturbing documents he wrote as a high school student and that he was under observation of medial authorities.

"I want to know what people knew and when they knew it and calling upon law enforcement as well as our social media platforms," Hochul said.

She added that depraved ideas fermenting on social media are "spreading like a virus" and need to be monitored and shut down.

"It has to stop, because otherwise, there’s no stopping it," Hochul said.

Hochul said she has directed the New York State Police's Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation.

A home linked to the suspect in Conklin, a town near Binghamton in Broome County, was searched by the FBI and New York State Police Saturday evening, according to law enforcement officials and eyewitnesses. Hochul confirmed during a news briefing that a home in Broome County was searched Saturday.

Authorities did not specify which social media platform the suspect used to allegedly livestream the shooting. But following the attack, the livestreaming platform Twitch said it had indefinitely suspended a user over the shooting in Buffalo.

"Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against violence of any kind and works swiftly to respond to all incidents," a Twitch spokesperson said in a statement. "The user has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content."

The company said it removed the stream within two minutes of the violence starting and is monitoring Twitch for any re-streams of the content or related content.

"A horrible day in the history [of] our community," Eri County Executive Mark Poloncarz said in a statement posted on Twitter. "Like too many communities in our nation, we've been impacted by the horror [of] a mass shooting. My thoughts are about the deceased and with their families at this terrible time."

President Joe Biden has been briefed on the shooting, his press secretary said.

"He will continue to receive updates throughout the evening and tomorrow as further information develops," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. "The president and the first lady are praying for those who have been lost and for their loved ones."

Attorney General Merrick Garland was also made aware of the incident.

“The Justice Department is investigating this matter as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism. The Justice Department is committed to conducting a thorough and expeditious investigation into this shooting and to seeking justice for these innocent victims," the statement from the department read.

Tops Friendly Markets said in a statement it was "shocked and saddened" by the shooting and offered condolences to the victims and their families.

"We appreciate the quick response of local law enforcement and are providing all available resources to assist authorities in the ongoing investigation," the Amherst, New York-based supermarket chain said.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson called the organization was "shattered" and "extremely angered" by the incident.

"This is absolutely devastating. Our hearts are with the community and all who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy," Johnson said. "Hate and racism have no place in America."

The Buffalo shooting prompted the New York Police Department to provide increased security at Black churches around New York City “in the event of any copycat," the NYPD said in a statement.

"While we assess there is no threat to New York City stemming from this incident," the NYPD said in its statement, "out of an abundance of caution, we have shifted counterterrorism and patrol resources to give special attention to a number of locations and areas including major houses of worship in communities of color."

ABC News' Matt Foster and Luke Barr contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Retired Buffalo police officer who confronted supermarket gunman hailed as 'true hero'

John Normile/Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- A retired police officer is being praised for the valiant actions he took to protect others when a gunman opened fire on a supermarket, killing 10 people in an alleged hate crime.

Aaron Salter was working as a security guard for the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, when a gunman shot four people in the parking lot, according to the Buffalo Police Department.

Once the shooter, outfitted in military fatigues, body armor and a tactical helmet, proceeded inside the store, Salter confronted him, shooting and striking the man, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph A. Gramaglia told ABC News Sunday.

But those bullets had no effect due to body armor the suspect wore, and the gunman returned fire, striking Salter, Gramaglia said.

The gunman shot nine people inside the store, livestreaming the entire massacre on social media. Salter was one of 10 people killed in the mass shooting.

Four of the shooting victims were store employees while the rest were customers, authorities said.

While it is not clear how many more victims were saved due to Salter's actions, Gramaglia said, "We're sure he saved lives yesterday,"

"He went down fighting," Gramaglia said, describing him as a true hero. "He came in, he went towards the gunfire. He went towards the fight."

Salter retired from the police department several years ago and had been a "beloved" member of Tops as a security guard, Gramaglia said.

"He took on a responsibility to protect the customers and the employees in the store," Gramaglia said. "And he did exactly what he signed up for."

One Tops employee, a mother of seven, told ABC News Sunday that if it hadn't been for Salter, she and her 20-year-old daughter, who was working at the register, would not have known the gunman was headed in their direction.

When she saw Salter pull out his weapon, they knew they had to run, and they both made it out alive, she said.

Buffalo police officers responded to the scene "within one minute" of Salter being shot and encountered the gunman, Gramaglia said.

The gunman then pointed the assault rifle to his neck in a threat to kill himself, but officers were able to deescalate the situation and talk him into dropping the weapon, Gramaglia said. The suspect then dropped to his knees and began taking off his tactical gear, and officers took him into custody, Gramaglia said.

Investigators from the FBI, New York State Police and other agencies revealed that the gunman -- identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York -- was in the Buffalo area at least a day before the shooting to prepare for the attack.

"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 had legally purchased the AR-15 assault-style rifle allegedly used in the Buffalo supermarket shooting at a gun store in his home county of Broome, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul confirmed during an interview with ABC New York City station WABC on Saturday.

The gun had been modified with an "enhanced magazine," which is illegal in New York, Hochul said.

The FBI is separately investigating the attack as a hate crime and as racially motivated violent extremism. Early indications are the shooter may have possessed extremist beliefs cultivated online, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Among the 13 victims shot, 11 were Black and two were white, authorities said.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff at city facilities, including police stations, fire stations and Niagara Square in the heart of Buffalo.

ABC News' Meredith Deliso and Matt Foster contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Buffalo supermarket mass shooting: What we know about the alleged gunman

Kait Munroe/Erie County District Attrorney

(BUFFALO, N.Y) -- The 18-year-old suspect who allegedly shot and killed ten people at a supermarket on Saturday afternoon in the heart of a Black community in Buffalo, appears to have been motivated by extremist beliefs and has a history of making violent threats, according to authorities.

Payton S. Gendron allegedly traveled more than three hours from Conklin, New York, to the Tops Friendly Market, according to law enforcement, to carry out the attack in a predominantly Black community.

He was wearing military fatigues, body armor and a tactical helmet when he shot four people in the parking lot of the Tops supermarket around 2:30 p.m. and then allegedly shot nine people inside before surrendering to authorities.

He was confronted by a retired Buffalo police officer working security who shot the suspect but without effect due to the suspect's body armor, police said.

Grendon was arraigned on one count of first-degree murder to which he pleaded not guilty. He has been ordered to be held without bail, according to the Eric County District Attorney's office.

Online writings

Law enforcement sources told ABC News the alleged shooter's extremist beliefs may have been cultivated online and he appears to have expressed racially motivated extremist views in his online postings.

A 180-page document believed to have been posted on the internet by the suspect, is a hate-filled screed fixated on the notion of "replacement theory," a white supremacist belief that non-whites will eventually replace white people because they have higher birth rates, authorities said.

Gendron, the purported author of the document, espouses racist and anti-Semitic tropes throughout the document, which he appears to have posted before he carried out the alleged attack, according to authorities.

Among the posts that investigators are looking at include online writings in which the suspect praises other mass shooters who were also motivated by racist ideology, including South Carolina church shooter Dylann Roof, the New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant and the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooter Robert Gregory Bowers.

In the document, the suspect also appears to outline a plan for his alleged attack, including time and place, and writes that he chose this location because there is a high concentration of Black people in the area.

Suspect's history

Neighbors of the Gendron family told ABC News that the suspect is a former student at Broome Community College, part of the State University of New York college system -- a detail confirmed by a spokesperson for the school.

Police in Broome County, New York, were called by a local high school in June 2021 after they reported that Gendron threatened a shooting at graduation or during that time, law enforcement sources familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News. Following a police investigation, no charges were filed against Gendron, who received a mental health evaluation and counseling after the incident.

A home associated with Gendron was searched by the FBI and New York state police, law enforcement officials and eyewitnesses confirmed to ABC News.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told ABC station in New York, WABC, that Gendron legally purchased the AR-15 assault-style rifle that was allegedly used in the supermarket shooting at a gun store in his home county of Broome.

But the "legally obtained weapon" was modified and became "illegal," Hochul said.

"It's mostly the illegal guns and magazine capacity enhancements that are causing a lot of problems in New York City and all the way here to Buffalo," she added.

What's next

Gendron was arraigned on Saturday evening before the Buffalo City Court on one count of first-degree murder, according to a statement from the Erie County District Attorney's office.

The suspect entered a plea of not guilty. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the DA's office.

But according to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn, further charges against Gendron are possible.

"My office is working closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office and our partners in law enforcement into potential terrorism and hate crimes. This is an active investigation and additional charges may be filed," Flynn said in a statement.

The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating the shooting as "a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

"The Justice Department is committed to conducting a thorough and expeditious investigation into this shooting and to seeking justice for these innocent victims," Garland said.

Gendron's next court hearing is set for May 19 and will remain in custody, where he is ordered to be held without bail, according to the DA's office.

ABC News' Aaron Katersky, Bill Hutchison, John Santucci, Laura Romero and Olivia Rubin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Mother, daughter escape gunfire at Buffalo store: 'By the grace of God we got out'

Libby March for The Washington Post via Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- Fragrance Harris Stanfield, a mother of seven, was at work at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, when she heard gunshots.

"We all looked toward the front door. We saw the security guard backing up, reaching for his weapon. And we ran," she said.

One of Stanfield's children -- her 20-year-old daughter -- was also working at the store, at register 6.

In the commotion, Stanfield said she realized she was separated from her daughter.

"I didn't know where she was. And I just thought, if she's gone, I gotta get out of here. She's got babies -- she has a newborn, and she has a 3-year-old, so I still had to get out. If I went back for her and she was gone, I would be gone, too. And then they'll have nobody," Stanfield said, overcome with emotion. "So I still ran and ran out the back."

Stanfield later learned her daughter was crouched down by a register during the gunfire and witnessed two people get shot.

Stanfield said her daughter "covered her face" when the gunman walked by so he "wouldn’t hear her breathing."

"By the grace of God we got out," she said.

Stanfield and her daughter were among those who escaped alive on Saturday when a gunman killed 10 people -- all of whom were Black -- at a Buffalo supermarket. Authorities are calling the massacre a "racially-motivated hate crime." The 18-year-old suspected gunman is in custody.

Annette Parker and her 9-year-old daughter were walking out of a Family Dollar store, just a few feet away from the grocery store, when they heard gunshots.

Parker picked up her daughter and started running, she told ABC News.

"My mother lives down the street ... so I ran towards her house," she said.

Parker said her daughter is terrified, and they're staying with family.

But Parker, with tears in her eyes, said hate won’t stop her from going back.

"That's not gonna stop me or my daughter. This is my community," she said.

ABC News' Stephanie Ramos, Katie O'Brien and Matt Foster contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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