Jewish organizations react to Buffalo shooting, share condolences

An 18-year-old gunman killed 10 people in a racially-motivated shooting spree at a supermarket in Buffalo on Saturday.

 A woman leaves tributes at a memorial for victims near the scene of a shooting at a TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, New York, US May 15, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID)
A woman leaves tributes at a memorial for victims near the scene of a shooting at a TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, New York, US May 15, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID)

WASHINGTON – Jewish organizations across the United States have condemned Saturday’s mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and issued statements of solidarity.

A white gunman shot 10 people to death and wounded three at a supermarket in a black neighborhood of the city on the western border of New York State before surrendering. It was an act of “racially motivated violent extremism,” the authorities said.

The suspect, Payton Gendron, 18, was armed with an assault-style rifle and appeared to have acted alone, they said. He drove several hours to Buffalo from his home near Binghamton, New York, to launch the afternoon attack, which he broadcast in real time on the social-media platform Twitch, a live video service owned by Amazon.com, the authorities said.

Eleven of the victims were black and two were white, they said, without specifying the race of those who were murdered.

A 180-page manifesto circulating online on Saturday was believed to have been authored by Gendron. It outlined “The Great Replacement Theory,” a racist and antisemitic conspiracy theory that white people are being replaced by minorities in the US and other countries.

 Mourners embrace each other, while attending a vigil for victims of the shooting at a TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, New York, US. (credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID) Mourners embrace each other, while attending a vigil for victims of the shooting at a TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, New York, US. (credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID)

The Jewish Federations of North America said it was “horrified at the news of the racially motivated shooting in Buffalo and reports of the gunman’s racist and antisemitic ‘manifesto.’”

“We must all stand together to defeat the vile hatred of racism,” it said in a statement. “Our hearts are with the victims and their families, and we mourn with the Buffalo community.”

Agudath Israel of North America expressed grief and said the shooting was horrific and racially motivated.

“Our condolences to the victims’ families, and our prayers for those injured,” it said Sunday in a statement.

“The shooter, a self-proclaimed white supremacist and antisemite, killed 10 and injured three more – almost all of whom were black – in a deadly massacre,” Agudath Israel said. “In a 180-page hate-filled racist and antisemitic manifesto, the shooter labeled his forthcoming attack as ‘terrorism.’”

“We agree, and we call upon the full force of the judicial system to punish the shooter to the extent the law allows,” it said. “We stand in solidarity with the black community which suffered the deeply painful blow of yesterday’s shooting. In our grief for their loss, we must all renew our efforts to combat racism and hate.”

The American Jewish Committee said it was horrified by the mass shooting.

“Our hearts are with the victims and their families,” it said in a statement. “We must continue to fight back against violent extremism.”

B’nai B’rith International said it was “discouraged and sickened” by “yet more gun violence.”

“A mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo has claimed at least 10 lives,” it tweeted. “Why is gun violence a normal part of our lives? Sensible gun reform now! We pray for the families.”

US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt echoed a message from President Joe Biden, saying on Twitter: “As the president said, ‘We grieve for the families of 10 people whose lives were senselessly taken and everyone who is suffering the... wounds of this horrific shooting.... [W]hite nationalist ideology is antithetical to everything we stand for in America. Hate must have no safe harbor.’”

The Anti-Defamation League said the manifesto’s language “closely echoes the themes of previous rants posted by white supremacist shooters.”

“[It] refers repeatedly to the virulently racist and antisemitic Great Replacement conspiracy theory, which argues that Jews are responsible for non-white immigration into the United States, and that non-white immigrants will eventually replace (and lead to the extinction of) the white race,” it said in a statement.

The manifesto “closely parallels – and in some cases duplicates – language from New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant’s 2019 manifesto,” the ADL said. “Gendron also mimicked Tarrant by writing racist messages on his firearm.”

“Gendron appears to have been radicalized in the last two years, with a focus on white supremacist rhetoric and lone-wolf-style attacks,” it said. “He is also virulently antisemitic; the manifesto advocates for a war between Jews and non-Jews.”

Reuters contributed to this report.