National News

Bishops, Governor Call For Gun Reform In Aftermath Of Buffalo Mass Shooting

Police are on scene at a Tops Friendly Market on May 14, in Buffalo, where 10 people were killed after a mass shooting at the store. (Photo: John Normile/Getty Images)

BUFFALO — Shock and grief gave way to outrage in the wake of a racially-motivated mass shooting at a supermarket here on Saturday, May 14, as leading Catholic prelates and the governor lamented the rise in deadly gun violence across the state and called for tougher measures to control it.

On Saturday, a gunman identified by law enforcement authorities as Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, New York, arrived at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo dressed in tactical gear and armed with an assault rifle at approximately 2:30 p.m. and began shooting people — first in the parking lot and then inside the supermarket, authorities said. For a short time, the gunman was live-streaming the incident on the website Twitch from a camera attached to the helmet he was wearing.

A total of 13 people were shot. Ten of whom died, while three others suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Eleven of the 13 victims were black, according to officials.

The suspect surrendered to police at the scene and was taken into custody. He was arraigned in court Saturday on first-degree murder charges. He pleaded not guilty.

Bishop Michael Fisher of the Diocese of Buffalo issued a statement decrying the level of gun violence in the country.

“What unfortunately has become an all too common occurrence in this country has now shown its abhorrently evil face in Buffalo as we have now learned that 10 innocent souls have lost their lives here,” Bishop Fisher stated. “On behalf of the Diocese of Buffalo, I, in the strongest of terms, condemn this utterly senseless act and pray for the victims and all those impacted by this act of cowardice.”

Bishop Robert Brennan called for prayers for the families of the victims.

“I am horrified by the senseless act of violence that took place in Buffalo yesterday, which has claimed the sacred lives of 10 individuals,” Bishop Brennan said in a statement on Sunday.

“Let us pray for an end to hate, violence, and racism in our country and in the world. Pray with me for the families of the victims of this terrible act, that they may feel the love of God and neighbor,” he added.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, who hails from the Buffalo area, described the gunman as a “white supremacist” and announced plans to introduce a legislative package to address gun loopholes on Tuesday, May 17.

“I’ve seen violence from guns on a Brooklyn subway and now on the streets of Buffalo. It has to stop. It has to stop,” Hochul said at a press briefing on Saturday, referring to the April 12 incident in which a gunman shot 10 people on the N train at the 36th Street subway station. There were no fatalities in that shooting.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that our laws are tight, they’re ironclad, to ensure that our law enforcement have the resources they need,” the governor said.

The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime.

Law enforcement officials are also examining a manifesto that appears to have been posted by Gendron containing racist statements directed toward black people. The shooting took place in a predominantly black neighborhood in Buffalo. 

The manifesto included mentions of “replacement theory,” the belief promoted on some websites that elites in the U.S. are seeking to dilute the political and cultural power of white people by replacing them with immigrants and people of color. 

Authorities said Gendron visited the supermarket the day before the shooting on what officials described as a reconnaissance mission.

Saturday’s mass shooting wasn’t the first time Gendron has come to the attention of law enforcement officials.

Back in June, police questioned him after he made disturbing remarks about committing murder and suicide when students at his high school were asked to discuss their post-graduation plans.

Gendron, who told police he was only joking, was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He was released after the evaluation.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will visit Buffalo on Tuesday to “grieve with the community that lost 10 lives in a senseless and horrific mass shooting,” the White House said in a statement.

Hochul has ordered flags at state office buildings to fly at half-staff in tribute to the victims.