U.S. President Joe Biden is set to call on Americans to “give hate no safe harbor” and for Congress to enact gun controls as he and first lady Jill Biden travel Tuesday to honor the victims of a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.
The Bidens’ schedule includes going to a memorial site and paying respect to the victims of Saturday’s shooting, and also meeting with victims’ families, law enforcement, first responders and local leaders.
“The President will call this despicable act for what it is: terrorism motivated by a hateful and perverse ideology that tears at the soul of our nation,” a White House official told reporters.
In a planned address, the official said Biden will also urge Congress to “take action to keep weapons of war off our streets, and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people who have a serious mental illness that makes them a danger to themselves or others.”
Authorities say 18-year-old Payton Gendron, who is white, killed 10 people and wounded three others at a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Eleven of those shot were Black.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation attack is investigating the attack as a hate crime.
“I want to be clear, for my part, from everything we know, this was a targeted attack, a hate crime, and an act of racially motivated violent extremism,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement Monday. “While there remain a lot of unknowns as there always do in an investigation at this stage, what is absolutely certain is that we at the FBI are committed to comprehensively and aggressively investigating Saturday’s attack.”
Investigators are studying a racist 180-page document, purportedly written by Gendron, that said the assault was intended to terrorize all nonwhite, non-Christian people and get them to leave the United States.
Police say Gendron drove 320 kilometers from his home in Conklin, New York, fired an AR-15-style rifle during the attack, wore body armor and used a helmet camera to livestream the carnage on the internet.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told CNN on Monday that the gunman had talked about shooting more people at another store if he had been able to flee the Tops Friendly Market.
“He was going to get in his car and continue to drive down Jefferson Avenue and continue doing the same thing,” the Buffalo police official said.
At the White House Monday, Biden paid tribute to one of the victims, security guard and retired police officer Aaron Salter. Salter fired repeatedly at the attacker, hitting his armor-plated vest at least once before being shot and killed.
Biden said Salter “gave his life trying to save others.”
Gendron surrendered to police who confronted him in the supermarket’s vestibule. He was arraigned on a murder charge pending further court proceedings in the coming days.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the shooting, with his spokesman saying Sunday that Guterres was “appalled” by the “vile act of racist violent extremism in Buffalo.”
Some material in this report came from The Associated Press.