Governor Kathy Hochul called the suspected gunman in a mass shooting at a Tops supermarket that killed 10 Saturday as a ‘coward’ and a ‘white supremacist’, addressing the congregation at True Bethel Baptist Church during the a Sunday morning service.
Thirteen people were shot by Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, New York, at Tops on Jefferson Avenue around 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Authorities are investigating the incident as a racially motivated hate crime.
Hochul described the incident as “personal” to his family, who hail from Western New York, and reaffirmed his stance on mitigating gun violence on the streets of New York while pointing to some responsibility in the radical spread of hate speech and racially motivated crimes on social media. platforms.
“Yes, I am the Governor of New York. But I am also a daughter of this community, and the first Governor who is a mother. We have to do something about this. I say to the instruments of this evil – social media platforms that allowed this hatred to spread like a virus around the world – it was not a random act of violence. It’s in a category of its own,” Hochul said in an impassioned speech on Sunday. “You attacked people for skin color, because you’re a coward, and I want to silence those voices now.”
Hochul said the “eyes of the nation” are on Buffalo, saying she hopes to see the community standing together, working to rebuild and recover from the heartbreaking shooting.
“I want them to talk about Buffalo as the last place this happened. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us because we are all God’s people and I will use all the power that I have as governor to protect you,” Hochul said.
“I want to be clear,” she continued. “This was a calculated execution of individuals based on the color of their skin. This is not our speculation. These are the direct words of the accused, who will be brought to justice.”
Hochul says New York leaders must focus on mitigating ‘dangerous and unchecked’ radicalization and white supremacy online, as well as strengthening gun laws, saying the weapon used in the shooting does not fall under New York’s strict gun law. The governor says his origin is under investigation.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James also attended the service, saying in part: “We have to demand change, we have to demand justice. This was domestic terrorism, plain and simple, and it should be continued as such. [The shooter] fed a constant diet of hate every day and for that he should be held accountable. We need to come together to fight gun violence in our community and gun violence in general. We need to come together to have a conversation about hate.”
The attorney general announced last year that she and a coalition of other AGs across the country had launched an investigation into the negative impacts of social media, particularly the Facebook and Instagram platforms, on young adults. She mentioned her study at a press conference after the service, saying she plans to continue to crack down on how social media moguls “benefit rather than protect.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown called the shooter a “racist and hateful shooter” at the service and encouraged healing at the service.
“True Bethel community, let’s hold each other and let’s hold the family a little closer. Let’s love each other. Let’s cry and let this heaviness go away because we must continue to build this community. Eyes of this nation, the eyes of the world, are watching us. Let’s show them what Buffalo is made of and this terrible tragedy, let’s make it a triumph,” Brown said.
Following remarks from lawmakers, members of the congregation and officials could be seen hugging and comforting each other in the aisles.
Sunday’s service was also attended by Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen, Congressman Brian Higgins, State Senator Tim Kennedy and other county leaders. US Senator Chuck Schumer also appeared via Skype on Sunday, saying he believed in the ability of the community to rise above violence.