Shooting Spree Extremism or Terrorism?

A woman chalks a message Sunday at a makeshift memorial outside of a Tops grocery store in Buffalo.

The man accused of killing 10 people in a racially motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket had plans to continue his shooting rampage and kill more Black people. “There was evidence that was uncovered that he had plans, had he gotten out of here, to continue his rampage and continue shooting people,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. “He’d even spoken about possibly going to another large superstore.”

The revelations align with information written in an 180-page racist manifesto authorities have attributed to the suspect, an 18-year-old White man who traveled nearly 200 miles to a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood to unleash an attack.The suspect, Payton S. Gendron, pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.

“All of us are in pain, dealing with the aftermath of this horrible, racist, violent attack on our community.” Said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. Those at the supermarket “were going about their daily lives, left in the morning and had every expectation that they’d be home at night with their families,” he said.

“We continue to investigate this case as a hate crime, a federal hate crime, and as a crime perpetrated by a racially motivated, violent extremist,” Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI Buffalo field office at a news conference.

“The evidence that we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime,” Gramaglia said. “This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind.”

Evidence may include a 180-page manifesto attributed to the suspect and posted online just before the attack. In it, the suspect allegedly details how he had been radicalized by reading online message boards and describes the attack as terrorism and himself as a White supremacist. He subscribed to a “great replacement” theory — the false belief that White Americans are being “replaced” by people of other races. Once a fringe idea, “replacement theory” recently has become a talking point for Fox News’ host Tucker Carlson as well as other prominent conservatives.

The manifesto’s author also writes the supermarket in Buffalo is in a ZIP code that “has the highest black percentage that is close enough to where I live.”The ZIP code that includes the store, 14208, is 78% Black — the highest percentage of Black population of any ZIP code in upstate New York — the US Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey finds. The shooting suspect is from the town of Conklin, a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Buffalo.

President Joe Biden has called this and act of extremism and there is also consideration for charges of domestic terrorism. Frank R James who has shot 20 people last month at the Brooklyn Subway has been charged with terrorism charges. Until recently, if an attacker is considered Muslim, they are assumed to be terrorists. More recently, the attacker would have to have ideological purpose are considered terrorists. Nathaniel Veltman who killed a Muslim family in London Ontario was charged with terrorism, however, Alexandre Bissonnette who shot six praying in Mosque in Quebec City was not charged with any hate crime or terrorism.

A shooting at Taiwanese Church in Lagnua Woods California has killing one and injuring others has also not been called an act of terrorism. The attacker is also of Chinese heritage and is not know to have any ideological views.