Buffalo Shooting: ‘Bodies Were Everywhere’

Image source, Getty Images Image caption, The gunman was arrested after the shootings outside the Tops Friendly Market store
- Advertisement -
Two people hug near the scene of a shooting at the Tops Friendly Market supermarket in Buffalo, New York on 14 MayImage source, EPA

BBC- Witnesses to a racially-motivated attack at a New York state supermarket have been describing the horrific moment an 18-year-old white man pulled out a gun and began a shooting spree that left 10 people dead.

The attacker, dressed in military gear, drove into the car park at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo at about 2.30pm (19:30 BST) and began livestreaming his rampage via a camera on his helmet.

“When I first saw him shooting he shot a woman, he shot a deacon, he shot another woman… and then he went in the store and he started shooting again,” eyewitness Grady Lewis told reporters.

Katherine Crofton, a retired firefighter and doctor, told the local paper she had been playing with her dog and smoking a cigarette when she heard a shot from her front porch.

“I didn’t see him at first, I turned around and I saw him shoot this woman,” she said.

“She was just going into the store. And then he shot another woman. She was putting groceries into her car. I got down because I did not know if he was going to shoot me.”

The suspected gunman has been identified in court documents as Payton Gendron, of Conklin, New York.

Of the 13 people shot, police said 11 were black. The authorities say it was a racially motivated attack in what is a predominantly black neighbourhood.

Inside the “packed” supermarket, operations manager Shonell Harris told Buffalo News she was putting out groceries when the shooting happened.

“I heard a noise, and then it got louder and closer, and everybody started running”, she said.

A small vigil across the street to the scene of a shooting at a Tops Friendly Market store in Buffalo, New York on 14 MayImage source, The Washington Post via Getty Images
Image caption,
A small vigil is set up across the street to the crime scene

Hearing the gunshots, Ms Harris said she made for the back exit, and ran around to the front of the store to look for her daughter, who was also working inside the supermarket.

At the front of the store, she said she saw the gunman, clothed “like he was dressed for the army”, shoot another person.

She then ran back around to the back exit, where she found her daughter. “I just grabbed her, I hugged her,” she said.

“It’s like a nightmare… you see this on TV, you hear about it on TV… but I never thought I would be one of them.”

Three people were shot dead in the car park and the other seven were killed inside the supermarket, police said.

As the shooter entered the store, a security guard named by local media as Aaron Salter – a retired police officer – fired multiple shots, but the gunman’s bulletproof vest stopped one that hit him, police said. He then killed the guard and stalked through the store firing at other people.

The local paper has named two others who died in the attack – supermarket customers Ruth Whitfield and Katherine Massey. A vigil was held for Ms Whitmore, 86, on Saturday night.

A church deacon who worked as a driver was also killed, Buffalo News reports.

Jennifer Tookes, who had been shopping in the store with her cousin when the shooting started, told NBC News that her cousin had hidden in the supermarket’s freezer until the gunfire stopped.

Ms Tookes added that she saw three bodies lying outside the car park when she escaped outside: “One was right by the door. One man was by his car. Another girl was right there.”

Ken Stephens, a member of a local anti-violence group who was at the scene, told the New York Times: “Bodies were everywhere.”

Witness Katherine Crofton said that after the shootings inside the supermarket, the gunman came outside.

“The guy walked out of the store, the cops were just screaming at him, and he just stood there,” she said. “It was like he wanted them to shoot him.”

The attacker was arrested by police and has been charged with first-degree murder.

Afterwards, local residents gathered at the scene. Among them was Marilyn Hanson, 60, who told The New York Times she had raced to the store after hearing the news to make sure her daughter, who lived nearby, was not hurt.

Finding her safe, Ms Hanson – who shops at the store often – said: “My daughter was so scared because that could’ve been me in that store.”

“If a black man did this, he’d be dead, too,” she added, referring to the fact that the suspect had surrendered and had been taken into custody by police.

A member of the local government council, Ulysees Wingo Sr, said most of the shoppers at the supermarket were black and that he knew some of the victims.

“This is the largest mass shooting to date in the city of Buffalo,” he told reporters.

“I don’t think anyone here in the city of Buffalo thought that something like this could ever happen, would ever happen.”

Saturday’s attack in Buffalo is thought to be the worst mass shooting so far in the US in 2022, and will also further inflame the bitter political battle about gun control in the US.

Some 40,000 deaths a year involve firearms in America, a figure that includes suicides.

Meanwhile, hate crimes in the US hit a 12-year high in 2020, with over 10,000 people reporting offences related to their race, gender, sexuality, religion or disability.

Crimes against Asian and black Americans in particular surged that year, FBI figures suggest – although as police are not mandated to submit hate crime data to the FBI, those numbers are thought likely to be an undercount.

Graphic showing the stages of the shooting's location
1px transparent line
- Advertisement -