(WASHINGTON) — The gunman who opened fire on a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities described as a “racially-motivated attack” has a “hate-filled soul,” President Joe Biden said Sunday.
While speaking at an event to honor law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2021, Biden said he and first lady Jill Biden were praying for the victims and their families.
“A lone gunman, armed with weapons of war and hate-filled soul, shot and killed 10 innocent people in cold blood at a grocery store on Saturday afternoon,” the president told the crowd outside of the Capitol.
All 10 victims who died in the attack are Black, law enforcement officials said. One of the wounded victims was Black while the two others were white, they said.
Biden said the Justice Department has stated publicly that it’s investigating the matter as “a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism.”
“As they do, we must all work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America,” Biden said. “Hearts are heavy once against but our resolve must never, ever waver.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement on Saturday that the Justice Department is “committed to conducting a thorough and expeditious investigation into this shooting and to seeking justice for these innocent victims.”
An 18-year-old male suspect, Payton Gendron, is in custody, according to the Buffalo Police Department. Authorities allege Gendron shot four people in the parking lot before moving inside the store, where he proceeded to shoot nine more people.
Gendron live-streamed the attack on social media and etched the names of previous mass shooters and racial epithets on the gun he allegedly used during the attack, a source familiar with the investigation told ABC News.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph A. Gramaglia said during a new conference on Sunday afternoon that the evidence collected so far indicates “this is an absolute racist hate crime.”
Gendron is believed to have written a 180-page document which fixated on “replacement theory,” a white supremacist belief that non-whites will eventually replace white people because they have higher birth rates, authorities said.
Other racist and anti-Semitic tropes were reportedly included in the document, which the suspect appears to have posted online before the attack.
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