May 16 (UPI) — The man arrested in the homicide of 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.,, has been placed on suicide watch.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said during a news conference Sunday that Payton Gendron, 18, was placed on suicide watch because he made an apparent threat to kill himself after carrying out the attack at the Tops grocery store.
“Because of his actions yesterday taking the assault rifle and putting it under his chin, he’s on suicide watch. So he’s on direct observation by our deputies, video surveillance, and he’s in a unit separated from all other incarcerated individuals,” Garcia said.
“His travels throughout the facility will be by himself, along with two deputies and a sergeant. He will be treated as everyone else is treated in the Erie County Holding Center, humanely and with respect and will receive correctional health and mental health help as needed.”
Gendron was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for fatally shooting 10 people, including a beloved retired police officer working as a security guard who confronted the shooter, and injuring three others at the grocery store Saturday afternoon.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said during a newshi conference Saturday that 11 of the 13 total victims were Black and officials have called it a “racially motivated” attack. It is the deadliest in the United States since the start of 2022, according to data held by the Gun Violence Archive.
“The evidence we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this was an absolute racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime. This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind and there is no mistake that this is the direction it is going in,” Gramaglia said Sunday.
Gramaglia said that warrants are being obtained to search his home and a warrant was already executed on his car. Further warrants will also include his social media platforms, a computer, telephone and “any other digital footprints that might come along.”
Officials revealed that Gendron was in Buffalo on Friday before the attack and Gramaglia said officials “know he did some reconnaissance on the area and on the store.”
He also confirmed that Gendron had contact with state police last year after he made “generalized threats” at his high school.
“State police had brought this individual in for a mental health evaluation. He went to the local hospital, he was there for, the information we have, is about a day and a half,” Gramaglia said. “He was evaluated and released at that point.”
Pages from a manifesto Gendron is believed to have written ahead of the mass shooting have been obtained by United Press International. In some of the pages, Gendron allegedly detailed his plans for the attack and allegedly made numerous racist and anti-immigration remarks.
President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday that the “horrific shooting” was “a racially motivated hate crime” and “abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation.”
“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America,” Biden said.
“Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”