Governor Kathy Hochul took aim at white supremacist ideology and its promoters online Saturday following a mass shooting at a Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue that was allegedly carried out by an 18-year-old white suspect dressed in a military camouflage.
“It’s hard to know what to say. This is my community,” Hochul said at a press conference held inside the Apollo Theater, 1346 Jefferson Ave., less than a block from where 13 people were shot by the suspect, including 10 fatally in what Hochul described as a “wonderful, close-knit neighborhood. »
“To see the sense of security shattered by an individual, a white supremacist who has engaged in an act of terrorism – and will be prosecuted as such – in a ruthless, cruel and calculating manner, engaging in military-style execution, targeting people who just wanted to buy groceries from a neighborhood store, it strikes us to the bottom of our hearts to know that there is such evil lurking there,” Hochul said.
People also read…
Holding a vigil Saturday night outside the Tops supermarket where his 86-year-old mother was one of 10 people murdered hours earlier, retired Buffalo Fire Marshal Garnell W. Whitfield found light and joy in the Life of Ruth Whitfield.
She promised that there would be an aggressive pursuit of justice in this case. The governor also denounced a “feeding frenzy” of racial hatred being promoted on various social media sites, and said the owners of such sites must be more vigilant in monitoring their social media content. Hochul also expressed dismay that the shooter’s actions could be live-streamed on social media platforms and not deleted within seconds.
Hochul said the owners of these sites have a moral, ethical and, she hopes, legal responsibility, “because that’s the outcome when you have individuals using the platforms and talking to others sharing these insane opinions,” Hochul said.
“It must end here and that is my message. We will continue to work with our federal, state and local community partners to help identify these messages as soon as they appear on social media. This is our best defense in this moment, as well as the justice system and prosecutions,” Hochul said.
“And I sincerely hope that this individual, this white supremacist who just perpetrated a hate crime against an innocent community, will spend the rest of his life behind bars,” she added.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the Justice Department is “investigating this matter as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.”
The governor’s sentiments were echoed by other officials present at the press conference, including U.S. Attorney Trini Ross and Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn, who announced the suspect was arraigned for murder in the first degree.
“Justice is being served right now and justice will be served,” Flynn said.
Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s office in Buffalo, said the FBI was conducting a parallel investigation with local and state partners.
“We are actively investigating this at the federal level as a hate crime and an example of racially motivated extremism,” Belongia said.
Coverage of this story is offered free to all readers. Please support our journalism and the newsroom providing this coverage by subscribing to The Buffalo News.