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Weekend mass shootings being investigated as hate crimes

Posted: 4:39 PM, May 16, 2022
Updated: 2022-05-16 21:19:31-04
Mass Shootings
Buffalo Supermarket Shooting Radicalization
Buffalo Supermarket Shooting
California Church Shooting
California Church Shooting

BUFFALO, N.Y. (KERO) — Officials say they're investigating the deadly attack in Buffalo as a hate crime, calling the act "pure evil."

Ten people were killed and three others wounded when a heavily-armed gunman entered a supermarket and opened fire on the mostly black customers and employees.

The 18-year-old gunman opened fire at a Tops Friendly supermarket around 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

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Officials say the suspect, Payton Gendron, was wearing body armor and a tactical helmet and was carrying an assault-style rifle.

Gendron, now charged with murder, is being kept behind bars on suicide watch. He is being held without bail with his public defender pleading not guilty for him.

Mass shooting suspect appears in Buffalo court

According to law enforcement, Gendron previously posted extremist views online including a 180-page document fixated on "replacement theory" a white supremacist belief that non-whites will replace white people.

Gendron planned out the attack at least two months in advance, according to new documents.

The 18-year-old man from Conklin, New York is charged with first-degree murder, accused of killing 10 people and injuring three others. The mass shooting is being investigated as a hate crime.

The 589-page document indicates the suspect visited the Tops store location on March 8, more than two months before the attack, and was confronted by a security guard. The document details an interaction he had with a Black armed security guard at the store.

Buffalo Supermarket Shooting
Investigators work the scene of a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

One of the victims in the Saturday shooting was Aaron Salter, a security guard at a Tops. Salter fired at the suspect but did not pierce his body armor. The suspect returned fire and killed Salter. It is unclear whether Salter was the same security guard who confronted the suspect in March.

The document includes sketches of Tops with aisles outlined. It also includes social media posts dating back to December 2021. The posts were made on Discord, a platform where users can communicate on private and public services using voice, video, and text. They are also able to upload files and media.

Buffalo Mayor: "So much hate in their heart"

As ABC News reported, investigators are looking into the document's origins and authenticity and trying to determine who else may have had access to it.

Authorities revealed the suspect was investigated last June after threatening a shooting at his hometown's high school graduation.

Remembering those lost during shooting in Buffalo

"These motives of this individual were based on hate, based on hatred of many types of people. It is believed he had a hatred for Black people, Jewish people, people of color," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

The suspect is being held without bail in Erie County. A felony hearing is scheduled for May 19.

President Joe Biden and the First Lady will be visiting Buffalo Tuesday. The president said he will address this issue from all fronts, including the suspect's ties to white supremacy and the need for greater gun control.

One dead after Orange County church shooting

Meanwhile, one person was killed and four others critically wounded inside a church in Irvine, California. According to police 52-year-old Dr. John Cheng died after being shot.

Witnesses tell ABC News the gunman, identified by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, as 68-year-old David Chou stood at the front of the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church at around 1:30 p.m., and opened fire.

One witness saying when the suspect stopped to reload, the pastor slammed him with a chair and several other church members jumped on him, tying him up. Authorities arrived shortly thereafter, arresting Chou.

California Church Shooting
Orange County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Steinle displays a photo of Dr. John Cheng, a 52-year-old victim who was killed in Sunday's shooting at Geneva Presbyterian Church, during a news conference in Santa Ana, Calif., Monday, May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Two of the four critically wounded victims have since been upgraded to good condition Monday afternoon.

According to the Associated Press, Chou is a Chinese immigrant motivated by hate for Taiwanese people. A former neighbor says Chou’s life unraveled after he was nearly beaten to death several years ago.

Chou is due in court Tuesday and faces one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder.


23ABC In-Depth

23ABC In-Depth: Hate Crimes in California

Following this weekend's attacks, 23ABC took an in-depth look at the numbers illustrating hate crimes in California, and those who were targeted.

According to the Attorney General's office, in 2020 there were a total of 1,171 reported hate crimes across the state.

Of those 456 targeted African-Americans.

An additional 152 of them targeted Latinos.

And a total of 89 were against members of the Asian community.

Lastly, there were 82 white victims of hate crimes in 2020.