The 19-year-old man, whom The Daily Wire will not name in accordance with a policy of depriving mass shooters of undeserved notoriety, pleaded guilty to all charges in the grand jury indictment, including murder, murder as a hate crime, and hate-motivated domestic terrorism, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Law enforcement officials said the suspect, who allegedly drove three-and-a-half hours from Broome County, New York, to the Tops Friendly Market because it is frequented by African-Americans, was on authorities’ radar after allegedly threatening fellow high school students last year. “A school official reported that this very troubled young man had made statements indicating that he wanted to do a shooting, either at a graduation ceremony, or sometime after,” a government official familiar with the case told The Buffalo News.
The shooter allegedly arrived at the grocery store on May 14 wearing tactical gear and carrying a rifle, shooting four people outside before entering the building. He allegedly shot eight more people while inside and killed security guard and former Buffalo police officer Aaron Salter, who attempted to stop him. The gunman allegedly live-streamed the murder spree on Twitch using a camera strapped to his helmet.
The charge of hate-motivated domestic terrorism requires an automatic sentence of life without parole. The shooter reportedly painted a number of racist symbols and phrases onto the weapons he carried during the attack, including the phrase “White Lives Matter,” the Celtic Cross symbol used by neo-Nazis, and references to “black-on-white” crimes.
“The past 24 hours have been traumatizing for New Yorkers, and my administration will spare no effort to ensure the victims of this act of terrorism by a white supremacist are receiving all the resources and support they need,” Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) said in a statement after the shooting. “The entire world is watching how we will come together as New Yorkers to overcome this unthinkable tragedy.”
Hochul has since announced a number of measures “taking bold action to reclaim our city and state from the haters, bigots and white supremacists,” including the promotion of $50 million in grants for projects to combat hate crimes.
The shooter posted a manifesto online detailing his intentions to livestream an attack against African-Americans, according to an earlier report from the Associated Press. He had allegedly scouted the store two months before the attack, practiced shooting from his car, posted hand-drawn maps of the grocery store, and counted the number of African-Americans present at certain locations in the building.
Ahead of the attack, the shooter allegedly communicated with at least six individuals in a chatroom. One report from The Buffalo Times indicated that a retired federal agent was present in the chatroom and may have known about the shooting half an hour in advance. The outlet was unable to determine if the retired agent accepted the invitation to the chat in which the shooter wrote about his plan, but federal law enforcement verified that no one who regularly visited the chatroom called emergency services to warn of the pending massacre.