An armed young white man opened fire on Saturday in a supermarket in New York State, killing at least ten people, most of them African-Americans, authorities denouncing a new racist killing of a white supremacist .
“We are investigating this incident as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” Buffalo FBI police officer Stephen Belongia said at a news conference in that city. North American, on the shores of Lake Erie, on the border with Canada.
The killer was immediately arrested on the spot, initially prosecuted for “premeditated murder” and imprisoned. It is an 18-year-old white man who was equipped with an “assault weapon”, a bulletproof vest, military-style clothing, a helmet and a camera to broadcast his crime live on the internet, announced the local police and judicial authorities.
Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia said “ten people were killed” and three others injured. Eleven were black people and two were white, in this predominantly African-American neighborhood of Buffalo.
According to Commissioner Gramaglia, the killer first shot four people in the parking lot of the Tops supermarket, killing three of them, before entering the business and committing carnage there. There, a security guard, a retired policeman, shot the assailant but the latter, protected by his bulletproof vest, was not injured and shot the guard.
When the police arrived very quickly on the scene, the young man turned his weapon against him, at the level of his neck, before surrendering to the police, according to Commissioner Gramaglia. The attack is “a hate crime and racially motivated” perpetrated by “evil incarnate,” blasted Erie County Sheriff John Garcia.
“Hate crime” in the United States refers to an act directed against a targeted person because of elements of their identity such as race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or disability. Considered an aggravated federal offence, it carries harsher sentences.
Asked if the shooter faced the death penalty at the federal level, the local representative of the prosecution of the United States Department of Justice replied that “all options were on the table”.
Crime on Twitch
The assailant, who was carrying a camera, began to broadcast his crime on the Twitch platform, which declared itself “devastated” and promised “zero tolerance against all forms of violence”. According to the social network, the content was deleted “two minutes” after it began to be broadcast, the attacker’s account was “permanently suspended” and “all accounts likely to repost this content are under surveillance”.
American media have also mentioned a “manifesto” of a racist nature disseminated on the internet, as is often the case in crimes committed by white supremacists. The Buffalo News newspaper even revealed that a terribly offensive, racist and taboo word in the United States to designate black people had been painted in white on the barrel of the weapon.
It is an “excruciating killing by a white supremacist,” New York State Governor Kathy Hochul thundered on Twitter. For his part, the mayor of Buffalo, an African-American, Byron Brown, denounced the fact that the killer had traveled several hours to commit his crime in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo.
This killing recalls two others: a racist massacre on August 3, 2019 when a 21-year-old far-right man killed 23 people, including eight Mexicans and “Hispanic” people in El Paso, Texas; and when on June 17, 2015 a white supremacist killed nine African-American worshipers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Serial shootings and murders in the United States in public places are tragically almost daily and gun crime is on the rise in major cities like New York, Chicago, Miami or San Francisco, especially since the coronavirus pandemic. 2020.
According to the Small Arms Survey program, in 2017 there were about 393 million guns in the United States, more than people. In 2021, firearms killed nearly 45,000 people in the United States, including about 24,000 suicides, according to the organization Gun Violence Archive.
Several initiatives by elected officials to strengthen gun laws have failed in Congress in recent years, with the powerful NRA gun lobby remaining highly influential.
Visiting New York in February, President Joe Biden protested against the increase in gun violence in the city and promised to do more at the federal level against this scourge. He denounced Saturday evening an “abominable shooting”, according to his spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre.