At least 10 people were killed and multiple injured after a white teenage gunman wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera entered a Tops Friendly Market with a rifle and opened fire, authorities said. Nearly all the victims were Black, and three more people were injured during the attack.
The president and first lady Jill Biden’s first stop Tuesday will be a makeshift memorial outside the supermarket. They’re also expected to meet privately with families of the victims, first responders and local officials before the president delivers public remarks.
In a speech at a nearby community center, Biden plans to call for stricter gun laws and urge Americans to reject racism and embrace the nation’s diversity, the White House said. NewsNation will live stream Biden’s speech in the player above.
Biden is expected to decry racially motivated violence. He told Americans he ran for president to restore the soul of America, following former President Donald Trump not denouncing a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
It’s a message that Biden has delivered several times since he became the first president to specifically address white supremacy in an inaugural speech, calling it “domestic terrorism that we must confront.”
“The evidence we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Sunday. “And it will be prosecuted as a hate crime.”
So far investigators are looking at the suspect’s connection to what’s known as the “great replacement” theory, which baselessly claims white people are being intentionally overrun by other races through immigration or higher birth rates.
The suspect was identified and is in custody after surrendering to authorities, police said. It wasn’t immediately clear why the suspect traveled more than 200 miles from his home to Buffalo, but law enforcement officials said he had researched the local demographics around the Tops Friendly Market while looking for places with a high concentration of Black residents, arriving there at least a day in advance to conduct reconnaissance.
The mass shooting comes amid Biden’s attempt to pass stricter gun control laws. Biden this year announced a strategy to combat gun crimes, including steps to crack down on rogue gun dealers and slow the spread of untraceable ghost guns, privately made firearms without serial numbers.
Gun violence has risen sharply in the last few years —according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearm homicides are at the highest level they’ve been in 26 years.
FBI records released last September suggest that Biden inherited a violent crime problem. In 2020, the year before Biden took office, homicides rose nearly 30% over the previous year, the largest one-year jump documented by the FBI. There were 21,570 killings, the highest since the early 1990s when homicides stayed above 23,000 a year. Biden met with mayors, police chiefs and other local officials last week to discuss public safety.
This story is developing. Refresh for updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.