Buffalo massacre is the latest mass shooting authorities say was motivated by hate. Here are others
Saturday’s massacre in Buffalo, New York, is the latest high-profile mass shooting in which authorities say the suspect was motivated by hate.
The suspected shooter, an 18-year-old White man, shot and killed 10 people and injured three others at a supermarket in a predominantly Black area, authorities said. Eleven of the victims are Black.
“We’ll be aggressive in our pursuit of anyone who subscribes to the ideals professed by other White supremacists and how there’s a feeding frenzy on social media platforms where hate festers more hate,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday.
Investigators in the case have found evidence indicating “racial animosity,” Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said during a Saturday news conference. The FBI says it is investigating the incident as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism.
The attack comes amid surging levels of hate crimes across the country. An FBI report published last year found US hate crime reports in 2020 rose to the highest level in 12 years. Also in 2020, the Department of Homeland Security warned White supremacists were likely to remain the most “persistent and lethal threat” in the country.
Here are other high-profile massacres in recent years that authorities have said were fueled by hate.
John T. Earnest admitted to a shooting at a San Diego area synagogue that left one person dead and three others injured in 2019. In December, Earnest was sentenced to a second life sentence after pleading guilty to a 113-count indictment that included hate crime and weapons violations.
He was armed with an AR-15 style rifle when he entered the crowded Chabad of Poway synagogue and began shooting. He also admitted to setting fire to a mosque in nearby Escondido several weeks before the shooting.
“The defendant targeted his victims because he hated the Jewish community and Muslim community,” Randy Grossman, US attorney for the Southern District of California, previously said.
“The defendant and his hatred have been silenced. He will spend the rest of his days and die in prison, while he languishes behind bars,” Grossman said.
Patrick Crusius, the man accused of killing 22 people and injuring nearly two dozen others in a 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart store, was indicted on dozens of federal charges, including hate crimes resulting in death and hate crimes involving an attempt to kill.
The rampage was the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern US history.
Crusius was accused of killing and harming the victims “because of the actual and perceived national origin of any person,” the indictment said. An earlier arrest affidavit said he told police his targets were Mexicans.
He has pleaded not guilty and is yet to stand trial. Lawyers for Crusius have said he was in a psychotic state after the shooting and suffers from mental disabilities.
El Paso community reflects on horrors of mass shooting
In October 2018, a gunman killed 11 worshippers in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, in what is believed to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the US, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Authorities said Robert Bowers targeted Jews online and made anti-Semitic comments during the shooting. Later, while receiving medical care, he told a SWAT officer that he wanted all Jews to die, according to a criminal complaint.
Federal prosecutors filed hate crime charges against Bowers, claiming he used anti-Semitic slurs and criticized a Jewish group on a social media site in the days leading up to the shooting.
Federal prosecutors said in 2019 they would seek the death penalty on charges that include obstruction of free exercise on religious beliefs resulting in death, use and discharge of a firearm to commit murder and possession of a firearm during a violent crime.
They said they are justified to seek the death penalty because of the role that Bowers’ anti-Semitic views played in the shooting.
He has pleaded not guilty and is yet to be tried.
In June 2015, avowed White supremacist Dylann Roof gunned down nine African American worshippers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church – a historic Black church – in Charleston, South Carolina.
Roof was convicted of federal charges and sentenced to death in January 2017. He was the first federal hate-crime defendant to be sentenced to death, a Justice Department spokesman said.
“Mother Emanuel was his destination specifically because it was an historically African American church of significance to the people of Charleston, of South Carolina and to the nation,” then-US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in 2015. “On that summer evening, Dylann Roof found his targets, African-Americans engaged in worship.”
Roof spent months plotting the attack, Lynch said.
“He was looking for the type of church and the type of parishioners whose death would, in fact, draw great notoriety for…his racist views,” she said.
Another place of worship – meant to be a refuge – was the scene of mass shooting in August 2012.
An Army veteran opened fire in a gurdwara – or Sikh house of worship – in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six people and wounding four others.
Wade Michael Page died of a self-inflicted wound after being shot by a police officer, the FBI said. The shooting came as violent attacks on Sikhs were spiking following September 11, 2001.
Then-Attorney General Eric Holder called the attack “an act of terrorism, an act of hatred, a hate crime.”
According to a man who described himself as an old Army buddy of Page’s, the attacker talked about “racial holy war” when they served together in the 1990s.
Christopher Robillard, of Oregon, who said he had lost contact with Page, added in 2012 that when Page would rant, “it would be about mostly any non-White person.”