While police have been praised for their quick response to the deadly mass shooting in Buffalo, some members of the black community are expressing anger that the white suspect was able to surrender — avoiding the fate of many accused African Americans gunned down by cops.
Accused white supremacist Payton Gendron, 18, was talked into giving up after he allegedly slaughtered 10 people and wounded three others in a racially motivated attack at the Tops Friendly Market on Saturday.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and top law enforcement officials have said the rapid police response likely saved many lives — and that officers did not have to shoot the hate-filled teen to subdue him, the Buffalo News reported.
“The Buffalo police responded in less than 2 minutes after this incident began,” Brown told reporters Sunday. “If not for their swift response and courageous actions, more lives probably would have been lost yesterday.”
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia praised officers who immediately confronted the heavily armed shooter.
“The bravery by the Buffalo police officers to engage an individual with a vest, an assault rifle with handguns — I just cannot say enough about their actions,” he said, according to the outlet.
But black residents who descended on the scene after the bloodbath Saturday and Sunday voiced frustration that the white suspect was allowed to surrender peacefully.
Buffalo resident Betty Maclin told the News that if he were black, “he’d have been dead before he came out the door.”
Another local, Jeffrey Watkins, noted that police across the US have fatally shot young black men who were unarmed and posed less of a threat than Gendron.
“We don’t know how the hell he made it out of here alive,” he told the newspaper. “If a black person would have had a screwdriver in his hand, he’d have been killed.”
Katherine Crofton, a retired firefighter who witnessed the rampage, said that when the suspect walked out of the supermarket, “The cops were just screaming at him, and he just stood there. … It was like he wanted them to shoot him.”
Gendron — who was reportedly armed with a semi-automatic rifle, a hunting rifle and a shotgun — was persuaded to surrender by law enforcement personnel, officials have said.
“They’re screaming at him, screaming at him, and he calmly takes off his gear and body armor because he had so much s–t on him,” Crofton said, referring to the military gear he wore during the massacre.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said his officers “responded as we were trained.”
“Any opportunity that we have — and that’s what we teach to de-escalate a situation — we are not looking to shoot anyone,” he said, adding that Gendron pointed the rifle at himself, not at police, before he was talked into giving up.
“The shooting had stopped at that point, and the officers moved in very quickly to de-escalate,” Gramaglia said. “Had the need come into play where they were forced to take deadly physical force, then they would have acted on that.”
The sister of slain victim Katherine Massey told The Post on Sunday that she is glad Gendron is still alive.
“I don’t want him dead,” Barbara Mapps, 64, said of the suspect. “Please Jesus, don’t let him die. Let him suffer.”
Once in prison, “He should be with every black, Jew, Spanish person on the [cell] block. He should have no white folks, just black, Jews, Spanish. Chocolate milk, chocolate milk, chocolate milk — every type of chocolate,” Mapps said.
Meanwhile, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump is investigating the events that led up to the shooting as he represents the family of Ruth Whitfield, 86, one of the slain victims, the Buffalo News reported. Whitfield’s son is a former Buffalo fire commissioner.
“We are thoroughly investigating the shooting and the events leading up to it,” said Crump, who helped George Floyd’s family obtain a $27 million wrongful-death settlement, in a statement Sunday afternoon.
“These grieving families deserve to know how a white supremacist, so vocal about his hatred, was able to carry out a premeditated and targeted act of terrorism against black people — all while armed with an assault rifle fitted with a high-capacity magazine,” he added.