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An armed young white man opened fire in a supermarket in Buffalo, upstate New York on Saturday, killing at least 10, the majority of them African Americans, and broadcasting his crime on social media , the FBI announcing to investigate a racist crime.
“We are investigating this incident as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” Buffalo FBI Special Agent Stephen Belongia said at a press conference in this week. northern city, on the edge of Lake Erie, right on the border of Canada.
The alleged 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 a bullet-proof vest, a helmet and a camera to broadcast his crime live on the internet, the press announced. local police and judicial authorities.
Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia reported “ten people killed” and three others injured. Eleven were black and two were white, in this predominantly African-American neighborhood of Buffalo.
According to Commissioner Gramaglia, the alleged killer first shot four people in the parking lot of the Tops supermarket, killing three of them, before entering the business.
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 police arrived on the scene, the young man pointed his gun at him, at his neck, before surrendering to law enforcement, according to Commissioner Gramaglia.
The attack is “a racially motivated hate crime” perpetrated by “evil incarnate,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia blasted.
“Hate crime” traditionally refers in the United States to an act directed against a targeted person because of elements of their identity such as race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or disability.
Being considered an aggravated federal offence, hate crime automatically 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”.
The social network assured in a press release that the content had been deleted “two minutes” after the start of its broadcast and that the assailant’s account had been “permanently suspended”.
A Twitch spokesperson said the platform is “monitoring all accounts that may repost this content.”
American media have also mentioned a “manifesto” of a racist nature which would have been broadcast on the internet, as is often the case in crimes committed by white supremacists.
The mayor of Buffalo, an African-American, Byron Brown, said the alleged killer traveled several hours to commit his crime in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo.
Serial shootings and murders in the United States in public places (shops, schools, etc.) are tragically almost daily and gun crime is on the increase in major cities such as New York, Chicago, Miami or San Francisco, especially since the 2020 pandemic.
According to the Small Arms Survey program, in 2017 there were about 393 million guns in the United States, more than people.
In 2021, guns killed nearly 45,000 people in the United States, including about 24,000 suicides, according to the organization Gun Violence Archive.
The right to possess arms is guaranteed by the Constitution.
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.
Here is the thread of events
At approximately 2:30 p.m., the suspect, an 18-year-old male believed to be out of town, allegedly drove to Buffalo and stopped at a branch of the Tops chain.
He then got out of his vehicle and was heavily armed, says Mr. Gramaglia. The shooter was dressed in tactical gear and a helmet.
The suspect first opened fire on three people in the parking lot of the grocery store. Three of them died.
The shooter then entered the business where a security guard, who was a former police officer, opened fire on the suspect.
Due to his bulletproof gear, the security guard’s bullets did not hurt the shooter. The latter fired in turn and killed the security guard.
Afterwards, the suspect continued to advance through the grocery store, shooting several employees and customers.
Eventually, the 18-year-old returned to the front of the business where the police convinced him to put his gun down after it was pointed at his own neck.
The suspect was therefore able to be arrested and transported to Buffalo Police Headquarters for questioning.