Buffalo shooting: Black Americans describe grief and fear

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*Photo: Zaire Goodman, left, with his mother. Goodman was shot in the neck but miraculously survived.

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BUFFALO — The rainy, grey weather in Buffalo certainly suited the mood on the ground on Monday.

The black community is grieving and they are scared after 10 people – now named by officials – were gunned down in a racially-motivated attack in a New York supermarket.

The victims, aged between 32 and 86, were shot dead by the suspected gunman on Saturday afternoon.

Three others were injured.

Among those killed were a former police officer, a woman who helped feed the poor and a man who drove shoppers to and from the market.

Eleven out of the 13 people killed or injured at Tops Friendly Market were black, and Buffalo’s police chief has described the attack as a “racist hate crime”. The neighbourhood where the attack was carried out is predominantly black.

Lakisha Chambers lives a few blocks away from the Tops grocery store – one of the few markets available to residents in the area – and walked over to the scene for the first time since the shooting on Monday.

There is still a police presence, the area is taped off and memorials with balloons and candles dot the area.

Seeing it in person makes it more real, she tells BBC. “We all could’ve been in here”.

Black Americans can’t shop, can’t go to church, can’t just live in this country without fear of being killed, she says.

What struck her, as well, was the age of the gunman, who is just 18 years old. To her, it suggests that the US must do better to stop racism once by addressing the underlying causes leading to attacks like this.

The youngest victim, store worker Zaire Goodman, 20, was released from hospital after being shot in the neck.

Jennifer Warrington, 50, has also been treated and released, while Christopher Braden, 55, is in a stable condition.

The Buffalo Urban League is also on site, working in the community to help provide counselling services.

Thomas Beauford Jr, its president and chief executive, calls what happened it trauma on top of trauma.

This densely populated area already suffers from all the ills of unequal policies and problems caused by lack of investment and devalued properties, he tells BBC.

The Tops supermarket is the only large resource for fresh food and products for miles in this area. Its closure will amplify the food desert that exists in the community, adding further to their hardship, he says.

Questions are now being asked about whether red flags were missed in the run-up to the attack. “I want to know what people knew and when they knew it,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul told ABC News.

The suspect had already been flagged at least once to authorities, spending a day-and-a-half in hospital undergoing a mental health evaluation after making a “generalised threat” while at school in June last year.

Despite this, he was not on any FBI or state-wide watchlists, and no red flags reportedly came up on a background check when buying a gun.

A 180-page document seemingly authored by the suspect has also emerged, in which he describes himself as a fascist and a white supremacist. He was arrested after the attack and has pleaded not guilty to murder charges. He is next due in court on 19 May.

Buffalo police chief Joseph Gramaglia told reporters the evidence uncovered in the case so far indisputably suggests that it was racially motivated.

“This is an absolute racist hate crime that will be prosecuted as a hate crime” he said.

Saturday’s attack is thought to be the worst mass shooting so far in the US in 2022. Some 40,000 deaths a year involve firearms in America, a figure that includes suicides – and mass shooting events occur frequently.

  • Credit: BBC
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