All day,people came to the massacre site to pray and comfort each other.

All day,people came to the massacre site to pray and comfort each other.Credit:AP

“Nothing as tragic as this has ever happened here before,” she tells me,as she wipes away the tears streaming down her cheek.

“I live right down the street and I thought there was a bomb or something going off: boom,boom,boom. It was terrible.

“But this was a terrorist act - he planned to come here - so how are you going to shut down people like that? They want a white America and it’s so sad that we can’t all just get along. All this hate. For what?”

Like so many other residents of this mostly black neighbourhood,Williams is heartbroken,perplexed - and angry.

Angry that someone could be so consumed with racial hatred that he travelled hours from his hometown of Conklin to murder strangers and livestream the carnage on the internet.

Heartbroken at the innocent lives lost:the shoppers,the store workers and a security guard,bound together by tragedy and circumstance.


And perplexed that yet another mass shooting has taken place in America,a decade after the Sandy Hook massacre when many of the nation’s politicians promised genuine gun reform.

Less than 24 hours after18-year-old Payton Gendron shot 13 people on Saturday afternoon at a Tops supermarket in east Buffalo,shocked residents spent the day holding vigils and church services,as President Joe Biden announced he would travel to the area on Tuesday to meet the victims’ families.

“We’re still gathering the facts,but already,the Justice Department has stated publicly that it’s investigating the matter as a hate crime,racially motivated act of white supremacy and violent extremism,” Biden said at the White House.

“As they do,we must all work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America. Our hearts are heavy once again,but our resolve must never waver.”

As grief swept through the community,police revealed that authorities had taken Gendron to hospital for a mental health evaluation last year after he suggested he would carry out a murder-suicide as part of his post graduation plans.

He later described the threat as a joke,and after he was released from hospital,he fell off investigators’ radar.

Gendron’s manifesto,however,provide the clues about his latest actions. In a lengthy document allegedly posted before the incident,the teenager invoked the idea that white Americans are at risk of being “replaced” by people of colour,an ideology known as “great replacement theory”regularly pushed by Fox TV host Tucker Carlson.

The Buffalo mass shooting is the deadliest this year.

The Buffalo mass shooting is the deadliest this year.Credit:AP

Gendron also name checked Christchurch murderer and white supremacist Brenton Harrison Tarrant,who livestreamed his own act of domestic terrorism in 2019,as the person who had done the most to radicalise him.

Buffalo police identified all 10 dead and three injured victims on Sunday. Among them was Aaron Salter jr,a former police officer turned Tops security guard who tried to stop the shooter;civil rights activist Katherine Massey;and Ruth Whitfield,the mother of the city’s former fire commissioner.

The massacre is the 198th mass shooting this year,according to the Gun Violence archive,an independent data collection group that defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are shot or killed.

It is also the latest in a string of racially fuelled attacks in the US. It follows the El Paso Walmart shooting in Texas of 2019,which deliberately targeted Latinos and resulting in 23 deaths and 23 injuries,and the 2015 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston,where nine African Americans were killed during Bible study.

Katherine Massey,a civil rights campaigner who wanted more gun control reform,was among the shoppers gunned down by Gendron.

Katherine Massey,a civil rights campaigner who wanted more gun control reform,was among the shoppers gunned down by Gendron.Credit:The Buffalo News

The Buffalo attack,the deadliest mass shooting to take place this year,has renewed calls for gun reform and swung the spotlight back on social media companies,which have struggled to keep up with the tide of violent content on their platforms.

Twitch said it removed Gendron’s content two minutes into the act,but clips are still doing the rounds online.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul demanded that company chief executives do more,telling a press conference on Sunday:“This spreads like a virus and that’s why I’m calling on the CEOs of all the social media platforms to examine their policies and to be able to look me in the eye and tell me that everything is being done that they can do to make sure this information is not spread.”

Back at in east Buffalo,the residents of this proudly religious neighbourhood are still trying to make sense of it all.

Aaron chalked a memorial to the 11 black victims on the footpath near the massacre site.

Aaron chalked a memorial to the 11 black victims on the footpath near the massacre site.Credit:Farrah Tomazin

As the afternoon sun dips over the now-closed Tops Supermarket,locals mill around the streets,discussing what has unfolded.

A pastor from the Lion of Judah Ministries is standing on a street corner giving an impassioned sermon,telling members of his congregation to keep the faith.


A few meters down,self-described “white allies” are handing out bottles of water to the steady stream of visitors,police and media descending on the site.

And on Landon Street,in front of a tree now adorned with tributes to the dead,a 30-year-old man writes the words “Buffalo 11” in white chalk on the road - a reference to the 11 black victims of Saturday’s attack - two others were white.

“I feel very vulnerable for my family and my people,” says Aaron Jordan as he finishes his artwork.

“For someone to come here and do that to my people makes me want to retaliate. But I know I have to conquer that. Jesus often says to turn the other cheek,so that’s what I’ve gotta do - I’ve gotta stay positive. But I’m not okay. Not one bit.”

Get a note directly from our foreigncorrespondentson what’s making headlines around the world.Sign up for the weekly What in the World newsletter here.

Most Viewed in World