The latest on the Buffalo supermarket mass shooting

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 0135 GMT (0935 HKT) May 17, 2022
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7:10 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022

Here's what we know about the deadly mass shooting in Buffalo

From CNN's Victor Blackwell, Amanda Watts, Eric Levenson and Travis Caldwell

People lay their hands on Deazjah Roseboro, 12, as she comforts her cousin, Jerney Moss, 8, following a mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, NY, on Sunday, May 15.
People lay their hands on Deazjah Roseboro, 12, as she comforts her cousin, Jerney Moss, 8, following a mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, NY, on Sunday, May 15. (Lauren Petracca for CNN)

The 18-year-old White man accused of killing 10 people in a racist mass shooting Saturday at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, had visited in early March, police commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Monday.

Officials had previously said the suspect, who is from Conklin, about 200 miles away, arrived in Buffalo on Friday for the first time to scout out the Tops Friendly Markets store in a predominantly Black neighborhood. However, Gramaglia updated that timeline as he described the investigation into the suspect's extensive "digital footprint."

"Information has also come as a result of some of this investigation that the individual was here a few months ago, back in early March," Gramaglia said.

The information comes as investigators have dug into a 180-page diatribe posted online and attributed to the suspected gunman that lays out in detail his motives and plans for the attack.

The massacre follows other mass shootings in recent years in which authorities say a White supremacist suspect was motivated by racial hatred, including in El Paso, TexasCharleston, South Carolina, and as far as Norway and New Zealand.

Here's what we know so far about the attack:

About the attack: Gramaglia said the suspect drove to the store around 2:30 p.m. ET. Wearing tactical gear, he shot four people in the parking lot, Gramaglia said, and then went inside the store, where a security guard engaged him. The suspect shot and killed the guard and then "continued to work his way through the store," Gramaglia said.

The victims: A retired police lieutenant. A substitute teacher who was a "pillar of the community." A beloved grandmother of six. A dedicated community activist. They were among the 10 people killed in the shooting. Thirteen people, ages 20 to 86, were shot. Eleven were Black and two were White, Buffalo police said.

The investigation: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN Monday that the shooting is being investigated as a hate crime, but declined to call it a domestic terrorist attack. “With respect to the tragic events of this past Saturday, it is being investigated, as the FBI articulated, as a hate crime,” Mayorkas told CNN’s Jeremy Diamond. “The term domestic terrorism is a legal term, and because the investigation is ongoing, I won't — I won't employ that term.”

Federal prosecutors are working to bring charges against the shooting suspect law enforcement officials said. Those charges are expected in the coming days, and would be in addition to state charges. The suspect was charged with first-degree murder Saturday. He has pleaded not guilty.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Saturday said the Justice Department was investigating the attack as a “hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism.” It’s unclear if the Justice Department would be able to seek the federal death penalty — as that depends on what charges are brought. At a news conference on Saturday, US Attorney Trini Ross was asked about the possibility of federal charges and the death penalty being sought, and she responded, “All options are on the table as we go forward with the investigation.”

The shooting suspect's racist statement: A 180-page diatribe attributed to the shooting suspect, which posted online just before the deadly rampage, shows in chilling detail the meticulous planning that apparently went into the racist massacre. 

Alongside tirades about his false belief that White Americans were being “replaced” by people of other races, the 18-year-old suspect allegedly included in the writing a hand-drawn map of the store he targeted, a minute-by-minute plan of the deadly attack, and pages upon pages listing the equipment and clothing he planned to wear – from military-style body armor down to the brand of his underwear.

What happens next: President Biden and the first lady are scheduled to visit Buffalo on Tuesday and meet with the families of the shooting victims, first responders and community leaders.

CNN's Alisha Ebrahimji, Dakin Andone and Amir Vera contributed reporting to this post.

Read more here.

6:15 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022

Video shows shooting suspect pointing gun at man curled up near cash register

From CNN’s David Williams and Jamiel Lynch

Video filmed during the deadly rampage inside the Tops Friendly Markets store shows the Buffalo shooting suspect pointing his rifle at a person on the ground but not shooting him.

The video, obtained by CNN, is taken from the point of view of the suspect after he fired at several people. In it, the suspect turns the weapon on a man who is curled up on the ground near what looks like a checkout lane. 

“No,” the man on the ground shouts. 

The suspect says "Sorry” and then turns away and continues walking down the aisle of cash registers. 

It’s not clear why the man was apparently spared the man or why the gunman said “sorry.” 

The video clip that CNN has obtained ends at that point.

5:52 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022

Federal prosecutors may bring charges against suspect in racist mass shooting in Buffalo

From CNN's Evan Perez

Merrick Garland, US Attorney General, speaks during an event at the White House in Washington, DC, on Monday.
Merrick Garland, US Attorney General, speaks during an event at the White House in Washington, DC, on Monday. (Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Federal prosecutors are working to bring charges against the man who allegedly carried out the racist mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, law enforcement officials said.

Those charges are expected in the coming days, and would be in addition to state charges. The suspect was charged with first degree murder Saturday. He has pleaded not guilty.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Saturday said the Justice Department was investigating the attack as a “hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism.”

It’s unclear if the Justice Department would be able to seek the federal death penalty — as that depends on what charges are brought.

At a news conference on Saturday, US Attorney Trini Ross was asked about the possibility of federal charges and the death penalty being sought, and she responded, “All options are on the table as we go forward with the investigation.”

Garland, who has put a temporary hold on federal executions while the department reviews policies and procedures, would have to make a decision on whether to seek the death penalty.

New York has effectively done away with the death penalty.

5:31 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022

Former classmates describe Buffalo shooting suspect as "loner" but "chill"

From CNN's Curt Devine, Daniel Medina and Isabelle Chapman

Former classmates of the Buffalo shooting suspect said while the suspect could sometimes be a loner and "odd," he wasn't known to be violent.

“I just can’t believe he would do something like that,” Nicholas Albrechta, who graduated from Susquehanna Valley High last year told CNN. “Never heard him thinking of anything like that.” 

Albrechta described the suspect, Payton S. Gendron, as “chill” and said he was a good person to do class projects with. He said the suspect could occasionally be talkative but that some days he kept to himself. He said he hadn’t seen the suspect since graduation last year.

Another classmate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation, remembered the suspect as a “loner” who was interested guns and video games, though the classmate added that that wasn’t uncommon among their peers.

“Didn’t hear anything bad about him once,” said another former classmate, Bryce Gibbs, who said he attended elementary through high school with the suspect and described him as “nice.” “I just don’t understand what convinced him to do this,” he said.

Yet another classmate characterized the suspect as “a bit of an odd kid. But I never thought he'd do something that messed up.”

The news has shocked others who have known his family. His parents were not known to hold extremist views, according to two New York residents who have worked with his parents at the state Department of Transportation and who shared their views on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation. 

“I never thought of the family as racist or hateful,” said one co-worker, who said she was heartbroken for the victims’ families as well as the suspect's parents, Pam and Paul. “I can’t wrap my head around this tragedy.”

Another co-worker described the suspect’s father as “a lovely guy. Smart, works hard for the state as [an] engineer for the DOT.” “He is a very liberal person similar to myself and what I have heard about his son are not his beliefs,” the coworker said.

5:18 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022

District attorney says Buffalo law enforcement officials are hearing about "a lot" of threats after shooting

From CNN’s Jenn Selva

Law enforcement officials in Buffalo are hearing about “a lot” of threats since the mass shooting at Tops grocery store on Saturday, according to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn.

"There is a lot of threats out there that I'm hearing about, and that we're hearing about in law enforcement," Flynn said.

During a news conference, Flynn said in one case a 52-year-old man called a pizzeria Sunday afternoon making threatening comments while referencing what happened at the supermarket.  

About 45 minutes later the man called a brewery in Buffalo making similar threats. According to Flynn, the man was arrested, charged with a class D felony, and faces up to seven years in jail.

“So let this case send a message out there to any tough guy or anyone who wants to be cute out there in sending messages or threatening anyone or putting anything on social media,” Flynn said. “I will find you, and I will arrest you, and I will prosecute you.”

5:01 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022

Defense attorney withdraws request for mental health examination on Buffalo shooting suspect

From CNN’s Jenn Selva

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said the Buffalo shooting suspect's defense attorney request for a mental health forensic examination has been withdrawn.

“The mental health forensic part of this has now become a moot point and is now off the table,” Flynn said.

According to Erie County Sheriff John Garcia, the suspect remains on suicide watch.

4:50 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022

Police commissioner says shooting suspect visited Buffalo in March

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia confirmed Monday that the suspect in the shooting was in Buffalo a few months ago in March.

"Information has also come as a result of some of this investigation that the individual was here a few months ago, back in early March. So as I said, there's a lot of material to go through, so that we have confirmed now it appears that individual was here back in early March," Gramaglia said during a news conference. 

Gramaglia went on to say that "this is a very long investigation." 

"There's a lot of digital footprint, electronics we'll have to go through. So that process is ongoing," he added.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said that suspect has "only been charged right now with one charge." Flynn noted that the defendant is "innocent until proven guilty." 

Some more context: The suspect was arraigned on a first-degree murder charge Saturday and was previously investigated in June 2021 for making a "generalized threat" while he attended high school, officials said.

The man accused of killing 10 people in a racist mass shooting Saturday at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket had plans to continue his shooting rampage and kill more Black people, authorities said Monday.

“There was evidence that was uncovered that he had plans, had he gotten out of here, to continue his rampage and continue shooting people,” Gramaglia told CNN earlier on Monday. “He’d even spoken about possibly going to another store.”

4:41 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022

Niece of woman killed in Buffalo shooting: I feel like our hearts were "just ripped out of our bodies" 

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Tamika Harper, niece of Buffalo shooting victim Geraldine Talley, told CNN that she is feeling "angry" after Saturday's deadly rampage. The woman said she feels like their hearts were "just ripped out of our bodies."

"My aunt was the nicest woman in the world. She would give her shirt off her back for anyone. Anyone," she told CNN's Victor Blackwell.

Harper described how she went to the supermarket right after the shooting occurred, and found out her aunt was in in the building during the event shortly after arriving on the scene.

"I proceeded to come to Tops. On my way here there was a police car that came — pulled up behind them. 'Oh, gosh, like why is he pulling me over.' So, I pulled over thinking I was being pulled over, and he sped past me ... So, I continued to come here. And when I got here, I seen police, firefighters, ambulance, I'm like, 'oh, my God, what is going on?' So as I'm saying that, my daughter-in-law said, 'It's an active shooting at Tops right now.' And I said, 'What?' So as soon as she said that, I got a call from my mom, and my mom was crying, and I said, 'Mom, I'm good, I'm okay. I didn't make it to the store. I never even went in there yet,'" Harper told CNN.

"She said, 'No, you didn't but aunty Gerry is in there ... [they] can't find her. So immediately I started calling her phone nonstop. I started praying to my God because I know god will get me through this. I know God will bring my aunt out of there alive because she was too good of a person. She didn't deserve this, so I knew she would be walking out of that store. I knew she was going to walk out of there, but unfortunately she didn't. She didn't. She didn't," Harper continued.

Kaye Johnson, also a niece of Talley, said she feels "completely devastated."

"Every time I close my eyes, I just imagine what my aunt's last thoughts was. She didn't get a chance to think, blink, nothing. This is just devastating. All the families that lost," Johnson said.

Watch the full interview here:

3:44 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022

White House recognizes Buffalo shooting victims and previews Biden's Tuesday trip to the city 

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre previewed President Biden’s Tuesday trip to Buffalo, New York, to meet with individuals impacted by a recent mass shooting at a grocery store over the weekend.

“Tomorrow, as you all know, the President and the first lady will travel to Buffalo to meet with families of the victims, first responders and community leaders. They will comfort the families of the 10 people whose lives were senselessly taken in this horrific shooting. And they will express gratitude for the bravery of members of law enforcement and other law enforcement members who took immediate action to try and protect and save lives,” Jean-Pierre said during the White House press briefing on Monday.

Jean-Pierre began her first briefing as press secretary by recognizing the victims of the shooting and first responders.

“We recognize their lives today and those lost (and affected) by gun violence this weekend in Houston, in Southern California, Milwaukee and communities across the country,” she said. “And we honor the bravery of those in law enforcement who responded quickly and with professionalism in Buffalo and who risk their lives every day to protect and serve their communities.”

She named each of the victims killed in the shooting, recognizing their roles in the community, and describing how they were each remembered by their family members.

She said of Celestine Chaney: “Celestine had been visiting her sister and they went to the supermarket because she wanted to get strawberries to make shortcakes, which she loved.” 

Jean-Pierre said Ruth Whitfield was on her way to visit a nursing home “as she did each day and she stopped at the supermarket to buy some groceries.”

And she said Heyward Patterson “worked as a driver who gave rides to residents to and from the grocery store and would help with their groceries.”