BUFFALO, NY – A civil rights advocate, a deacon and a heroic security guard were among the shooting victims of a Saturday attack by an 18-year-old gunman who previously had threatened a shooting at his high school.
Buffalo police have released the identities of the 10 people who died in the shooting, among them a security guard hailed as a “hero” for trying to stop the gunman at the Tops Friendly Markets store. Their ages range from 32 to 86 years old.
The suspect was identified by authorities as Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, New York, about 200 miles east of Buffalo. Gendron would have continued his rampage if he hadn’t been stopped by officers outside the store, Buffalo Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told ABC News on Monday.
“We have uncovered information that if he escaped the supermarket, he had plans to continue his attack,” Gramaglia told ABC News. “He had plans to continue driving down Jefferson Ave to shoot more black people … possibly go to another store (or) location.”
‘This is the heart of the Black community’:Buffalo shooting rattles in a close-knit neighborhood
Here’s what we know:
Previous threat led to mental health treatment
Gendron had threatened a shooting at Susquehanna Valley High School last year and was sent for mental health treatment, USA TODAY confirmed on Sunday.
New York State Police said troopers were called to the school on June 8, 2021, for a report that a 17-year-old student had made threatening statements. Police said the student was taken into custody under a state mental health law and taken to a hospital for an evaluation. The police statement did not give the student’s name.
Gendron graduated from the school in Conklin, about 10 miles southeast of Binghamton near the New York-Pennsylvania border.
Buffalo neighborhood like one big family
The Tops store provides a vital service in the “Jefferson Ave” neighborhood, and the company has announced a free shuttle bus service to the next closest location. Community groups have begun organizing to help provide groceries to people in need.
The attack transformed a tight-knit community into an epicenter of raw grief and outrage. But residents are rallying. Many know each other like family – and look out for each other like family, too.
“This is the heart of the Black community,” said Glen Marshall, who is from the area. “If we don’t live in this community, we grew up in this community. Everybody comes back to the community.”
Assault-style rifle had been illegally modified
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 assault-style rifle had characteristics that made it legal in New York – and it was similar to those used in other high profile mass shootings, such as those at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and at a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville , Tennessee.
But the semi-automatic weapon was modified with an illegal magazine, Gov. Kathy Hochul said. New York bars the sale of any magazine that has a capacity of over 10 rounds.
Hochul said law enforcement was working to determine where the magazines used were acquired, but she observed they could be purchased as close as Pennsylvania. She didn’t elaborate on how many bullets the magazines could hold.
What kind of gun was used in the Buffalo shooting? What we know
Victims ranged in age from 32 to 86
Police released the names of the victims late Sunday: Aaron Salter, 55; Ruth Whitfield, 86; Pearl Young, 77; Katherine Massey, 72; Roberta Drury, 32; Heyward Patterson, 67; Celestine Chaney, 65; Margus Morrison, 52; Andre Mackneil, 53 and Geraldine Talley, 62.
Gramaglia said Salter was a former police officer who was working as a security guard at the Tops. Salter confronted the gunman, shooting him in his tactical vest. The gunman returned fire and fatally shot Salter.
“He went down fighting,” Gramaglia told ABC News. “He’s a true hero.”
Security guard. Deacon. 86-year-old shopper: These are the victims of the Buffalo shooting.
Federal agents review 180-page document
Federal agents interviewed Gendron’s parents and were working to confirm the authenticity of a 180-page document that was posted online, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The document detailed the plot and identified Gendron by name as the gunman, said the official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the details of the investigation and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity. The document espoused the belief that the US belongs only to white people and all others should be eradicated by force or terror, which was the purpose of the attack.
The official said Gendron repeatedly visited websites promoting white supremacist ideologies and race-based conspiracy theories.
More:How the ‘replacement theory’ is fueling extremists and shooters.
What happened at the Top grocery store?
Gendron, armed with an assault-style rifle and arrived at the store around 2:30 pm Saturday and immediately shot four people in the parking lot, Gramaglia previously said. Three died at the scene. Gendron entered the store and continued his attack.
The suspect was wearing a camera and livestreaming. The online platform Twitch said in a statement that it ended the livestream “less than two minutes after the violence started.”
After encountering and shooting Salter, working in the store as a security guard, the gunman continued shooting until he was confronted by Buffalo police, Gramaglia said. Then the suspect pointed his own gun at his neck before surrendering.
Contributing: Cady Stanton, Kevin Johnson and Celina Tebor, USA TODAY; Sarah Taddeo, New York State team.