May 16, 2022
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown news conference day after deadly mass shooting 5/15/22 Transcript
Buffalo Officials speak to the press on their investigation into the mass shooting at tops Supermarket on 5/15/22. Read the transcript here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Speaker 1: (00:00)
… New York. President Biden speaking just a short time ago, saying the Justice Department is investigating the shooting as a hate crime, a racially motivated act of white supremacy. Let’s take a listen.
Mayor Byron Brown: (00:11)
… shooting that occurred in Buffalo yesterday. I want to thank Governor Kathy Hochul for her support of this community in Albany. Working, flew back to be with this community where she lives. We thank her for that. I want to thank New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who was working in New York City and flew here to be with the people of Buffalo. We will hear from them in a moment. I’m going to have some opening comments and then turn things over to Buffalo Police Commissioner Gramaglia. Commissioner Gramaglia will introduce other law enforcement speakers, and then I will come back and introduce the attorney general and the governor. There have been many elected officials in the local community who have been active and involved with this horrible situation. We have received calls from elected officials, from business leaders and others, from all across the country and internationally as well.
Mayor Byron Brown: (01:26)
I want to recognize that Congressman Brian Higgins is with us. The US Attorney for the Western District, Trini E. Ross is with us. New York State Senator, Tim Kennedy, who was on a trip with his family, flew back to be here in Buffalo, is with us. South District Council member, Christopher Scanlon is with us. As I mentioned, we have heard from a lot of businesses locally and in other places, that want to be helpful to the families that have experienced this horrible tragedy. Scott Bieler and West Herr Automotive Group have pledged $300,000 for grief counseling and other services, for the families of the 10 members of our community that lost their lives in this mass shooting. I want to thank Scott Bieler and West Herr Automotive Group for that commitment.
Mayor Byron Brown: (02:33)
Zephyr and CrossCountry Mortgage. Zephyr is a new company that will be opening in the city of Buffalo. They have committed $50,000 for the funeral expenses of the 10 members of our community that have lost their lives. All information about how those donations can be processed, and how that support can be provided to the families can be accessed through the Mayor’s office, by calling 716 851 4841. This assistance is only for the affected families, the 13 people who have been shot, and sadly the families of the 10 people who lost their lives. Now, for a more detailed and updated law enforcement briefing, I’m going to ask Joseph Gramaglia, the Buffalo Police Commissioner, to provide that briefing and introduce other members of law enforcement.
Joseph Gramaglia: (03:51)
Thank you Mayor. Thank you Governor. Thank you everybody here. So, first, again, we’d like to extend our condolences to the families of those that have been affected. The Tops community, the Buffalo Police community and the entire city of Buffalo community, we all feel this as a whole. This is going to be a very lengthy investigation. Last night, we completed the process with the Medical Examiner’s Office on identifications and, more importantly, family notifications. We had a family reunification center, and we were able to provide all those notifications so that they can begin the grieving process. As we said, this is going to be a very lengthy investigation. There are warrants that have been obtained. There are warrants that will continue to be obtained, both on the state and the federal levels. We will be looking at extensive digital platforms, computers, phones, cameras and anything else that comes into play in this investigation.
Joseph Gramaglia: (04:44)
The crime scene is still being held and it will be held for as long as we need it. The FBI is bringing in specialized equipment to help process that scene. This is a very significant coordinated, collaborative effort with the state police, the FBI, the Sheriff’s Department, everybody else involved in this process. The evidence that we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is 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’s a direction that this is going in.
Joseph Gramaglia: (05:20)
This will be completely geared toward securing a conviction for this individual. Our detectives, agents, deputies, everybody standing before you, will work this tirelessly for as long as it needs to go. It’s done by a person again, who does not live in our community, who brought this kind of hate to our very close knit Buffalo community. We will not tolerate this. We will stand tall against it. We will rebound against it. We will show how strong we are, and all the members of our police department, the Sheriff’s Department, the FBI, the state police, will continue to fight hate on a daily basis. Thank you. We’re going to introduce Sheriff John Garcia. We have Special Agent in charge of the Buffalo office also, Stephen Belongia. We have the ATF represented as well. So, Sheriff?
Sheriff John Garcia: (06:06)
Thank you, Commissioner Gramaglia. As Sheriff of Erie County I just want to say that on behalf of myself, our office and the residence of Erie County, our condolences go out to the victims, the families, and the entire community. I’m not going to mention this individual by name, he doesn’t deserve that. We should never mention his name. As far as we’re concerned, he is Inmate Control Number 157103. I could confer, I could state this, that he is in our custody, he will remain in our custody until further notice. 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 from our deputies, video surveillance, and he is in a unit which is separated from all other incarcerated individuals.
Sheriff John Garcia: (07:03)
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 within the Erie County Holding Center, humanely, with respect, and he will receive the correctional health and the mental health that is needed. I believe the narrative should be the actions taken yesterday by the Buffalo Police Officers, Erie County Sheriff’s Deputies, FBI agents, that this shooting started at approximately 2:30 PM. Five hours later, this individual is in custody and arraigned and behind bars. The bravery by the Buffalo Police Officers to engage an individual with a vest, an assault rifle, with handguns, I could just not say enough about their actions. I can’t say enough about our retired fellow colleague, Aaron Salter, who confronted this individual to save the lives of others. May he rest in peace, Aaron Salter.
Sheriff John Garcia: (08:21)
We will move forward. This individual came from outside the community. This is not the city of good neighbors. Moving forward, as the mayor said, a lot of people have reached out to the Mayor’s Office, as they have reached out to the County Sheriff’s Office, to see what they could do, how they could donate to the families, how they could pay for the funerals. This is what our community is all about. This is Buffalo. This is Erie County. Hate has no place in our county, in our state, in our nation. This was pure evil by one individual. I know that this community is going to come together stronger than ever. More united than ever, because we are Buffalo and we are one. God bless the victims, their families, and this entire county. Thank you. Stephen Belongia from the FBI.
Stephen Belongia: (09:17)
On behalf of the FBI, I’d like to offer my condolences once again to the families and the victims who were viciously attacked yesterday. We continue, the FBI continues, to vigorously work this investigation from a federal perspective, with all of our federal, state and local partners. Like to give [inaudible 00:09:38] an incredible partner from the beginning on this case, at the federal level. We are receiving resources both locally and federally and from our headquarters, to assist in this investigation. Including from our Evidence Response Unit at headquarters, along with our Criminal Investigative Division, our Counter- Terrorism Division and our Victim Services Division. We continue to investigate this case as a hate crime, a federal hate crime, and as a crime perpetrated by a racially motivated violent extremist. If you have not seen it, the FBI has set up a tip line. If anybody has information that could help with this investigation, we ask that you go to fbi.gov/buffaloshooting. com, or fbi.gov/buffaloshooting. If you have any information, any video, anything like that, that Would assist the investigation. Thank you.
Mayor Byron Brown: (10:44)
Again, I want to thank law enforcement at every level, federal state, Buffalo Police, Erie County Sheriff’s Department for their tremendous response. The Buffalo Police responded in less than two minutes after this incident began. I want to say a special word of thanks to the Buffalo Police Officers, because if not for their swift response and courageous actions, more lives probably would have been lost yesterday. That is important to note. This individual came here with the expressed purpose of taking as many black lives as he possibly could. So, the Buffalo Police saved a lot of lives yesterday. I want to thank them for that. Yesterday, as this was unfolding, one of the people that reached out was New York State Attorney General, Letitia James. Not only did she reach out, but then very quickly, very shortly thereafter, got on a plane and flew here to be with our community and provide support and services. My pleasure to introduce our Attorney General.
Attorney General Letitia James: (12:02)
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I want to thank-
Mayor Byron Brown: (12:03)
Our Attorney General.
Attorney General Letitia James: (12:03)
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I want to just thank law enforcement this morning. I also want to thank the District Attorney and the Assistant United States Attorney General who will be prosecuting these cases. I want to thank DA Flynn, and of course, the Assistant United States Attorney General for the Western District, Ms. Trini Ross, for all that they are doing. I know that they will bring the full weight of the United States of America to bear justice and to bring justice on behalf of this community, which is in mourning right now, in pain, and in desperate need of healing.
Attorney General Letitia James: (12:31)
I had the opportunity to attend a number of churches this morning, and I heard about the victims. I heard about the senior citizen who planted trees on her block. I heard about the woman who just went to visit her husband in nursing home and then stopped by at Tops to get something to eat. I heard about the young gentleman who worked in the office of Senator Kennedy, who survived, who was shot through the neck and who God’s basically spared his life. I heard about countless number of victims this morning. I held in my arms a young lady who worked at Tops who was so afraid that she was about to die. Who witnessed the bloodshed, who shaked and quivered in my arms this morning. Who was afraid for her community, but afraid also for herself.
Attorney General Letitia James: (13:23)
This event will not define Buffalo. This event will bring Buffalo residents together. This event was committed by a sick demented individual who’s fueled a daily diet of hate. So let us now tamper down our comments, all of us, let us make sure that we have standards in journalism. Let us make sure that we investigate social media, and my office will be focused on doing that as we have been doing for the last few months. And let us come together as one and let us put aside any differences and let us all stand and remember the words of Dr. King that love, only love will overcome hate. Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Byron Brown: (14:14)
Again, when this incident was unfolding, we heard very quickly from our Governor, Kathy Hochul. Governor was working in Albany and dropped what she was doing to get back to this community as quickly as possible. She has been a source of strength and support. It’s my pleasure and privilege to introduce Governor Kathy Hochul.
Governor Kathy Hochul: (14:38)
Thank you Mayor for demonstrating the leadership that our community needs at this time. You’ve been phenomenal in your approach and the passion. But also the intellect that you’ve brought to this process, which begins with the healing process now. I also want to lend my voice to those who are just absolutely in awe of what the Buffalo Police Department did yesterday. Right now President Biden, who’s addressing the nation, talking about the fallen police officers who lost their lives over the past of the last year. That knowledge is seared in my mind to know that these individuals put on a uniform every single day, as do law enforcement all over our state. Our state police officers, individuals in small towns and large.
Governor Kathy Hochul: (15:23)
And they are so heroic with the time it comes, but they deserve our respect at all times. I wanted to just give my gratitude to the Commissioner, to your members as well as everyone who has stepped up. I also want to thank our Attorney General. I have such confidence in her ability to bring the full weight of the law to bear in all cases involving hate crimes and other crimes. I’ve just referred to her office a further investigation working with our Hate Crimes Task Force to make sure that we fared this out at all levels and continue working together investigating this, wherever it may happen.
Governor Kathy Hochul: (15:59)
We don’t know whether there’s other people who are now going to be inspired, which is exactly what this cruel depraved person intended. If you read the manifesto, he intended to make sure that other people would see what happened in real-time here so they would consider other acts as well. That’s what has to shut down right now. And to now listen to the FBI hearing that there is now a website, the Buffalo shooting, that just struck me. Now we’re known as the place of the Buffalo shooting. We are so much more than that. This state is magnificent, but this is my hometown. People know I know this neighborhood. This is my community. These are my friends.
Governor Kathy Hochul: (16:39)
So we will be known perhaps temporarily as the place of the Buffalo shooting, but I want our place in history, the place of the last mass shooting in this country. And working together, we will achieve that bringing to bear all the resources we have, whether it’s smarter gun laws in our nation. I continue to call on Washington to do just some basic things like we’ve done here in the State of New York. I also call on the Supreme Court, which is actually considering rolling back some of the protections that we put in place here to protect New York citizens from gun violence. We encourage them to just leave the law alone, but we’ll find out soon where they’re headed. But also the social media platforms, those companies we’re going to be sitting down and having a conversation very soon about are they doing everything they humanly can? Are they putting in place human intellect as well as algorithms to identify when this hate speech occurs?
Governor Kathy Hochul: (17:38)
I also want to make a couple of announcements about the incredible support, the outpouring of support that has come to these families who we mourn. Our hearts break for them, but also people all over want to share their love with us as well. I was in contact with Reverend Al Sharpton, the head of the National Action Network. There’s an office here in Buffalo. He wanted to make sure I told the community that they want to pick up all the funeral costs for these families. They want to make sure that they don’t have these fraudulent GoFundMe sites that are often set up in these circumstances, and so we’ll be getting information out about that incredibly generous offer and we thank Reverend Al for that.
Governor Kathy Hochul: (18:15)
Also, we want to make sure that our state resources are being deployed effectively. Our Office of Victim Services have identified $2 million that’ll go directly to support these families and whatever they need, so they’ll be contacted by our members as well. We have counselors available seven days a week at our New York Project Hope line, which is a phone number people can call if they just need to talk to somebody. If you don’t want to go in person, if you just want to talk about what this has done to your sense of security, if you need that extra help from a mental health counselor. And also we have a separate fund that goes to communities that are affected by gun violence overall. Communities that need that sense that they’re going to be okay.
Governor Kathy Hochul: (18:56)
I want to make sure that all of our state resources are available for that as well. One last area that is also of concern to me is the access to food in this neighborhood. We now have a food desert, so we are in touch with Uber and Lyft, and they have offered to take people from these zip codes if they need to go to a grocery store in another area. Because a lot of people in this neighborhood, they walk to the grocery store. They don’t have transportation. To those families, we’ll be reaching out and making sure the information is there on how to get access, and I thank Uber and Lyft for providing these resources. As well as I understand that this is a crime scene, but as soon as we can get this store open and available to the neighborhood is going to be critically important to the wellbeing and the sense of getting back to normal.
Governor Kathy Hochul: (19:42)
I ask our law enforcement partners to understand that this community does not have a lot of options. This neighborhood does not have a lot of stories to go to. We want to make sure that their lives, the disruption of yesterday does not continue day after day as a constant reminder of what pain this community just endured. I thank everyone, we’re going to continue to be issuing information as we get it. But I want to thank the community for stepping up. This is what Buffalo does. This is what New York State does, we step up.
Governor Kathy Hochul: (20:14)
To anyone else, and this is my last message, anyone else who dare break the security that every citizen is entitled to, to make them feel victimized, you’ve just picked a fight with 20 million New Yorkers. Because we will continue to stand up because an attack on one is an attack on all, and this was, no other way to describe it, than white supremacy terrorism, it’s racism, it’s hatred, and it stops right here in Buffalo. This is the last stop you’re going to have because we are coming after you. Thank you.
Mayor Byron Brown: (20:49)
A couple of other points before we open up for questions. The Governor mentioned crisis services and the importance of grief counselors. All of us went to church together this morning, the Governor, Attorney General James, Congressman Higgins, Senator Kennedy and I, and we got to see some of the grief that is in this community. Some of the raw emotion and pain and anguish that people are feeling. Also available, Erie County Executive, Poloncarz, has set up grief counseling at the Johnnie B. Wiley Athletic Center on Jefferson Avenue. That grief counseling is available until 9:00 PM tonight, and it will be available tomorrow from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM at the Johnnie B. Wiley Athletic Center on Jefferson Avenue, right down the street from where we are.
Mayor Byron Brown: (22:01)
We know that there were a number of people that witnessed this incident, that feel traumatized by this incident. It is open to anyone, including law enforcement, that would like to see a crisis counselor. Also, for others that can’t get to that site, crisis services is available. That number is (716) 831-3434. I just, as I conclude, want to mention that we have been joined by Masten District Council Member, Ulysees Wingo, Niagara District Council Member, David Rivera, and Buffalo Urban League President and CEO, Thomas Beauford.
Speaker 2: (22:49)
You are watching a briefing on the deadly mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. 10 people killed, three wounded, 11 victims were black. A retired Buffalo Police Lieutenant working as a security guard, among the dead, being called a hero today. Let’s get to ABC’s Stephanie Ramos in Buffalo. Stephanie, the Buffalo Police Commissioner is saying evidence so far makes no mistake. This was a racist hate crime.
Stephanie Ramos: (23:19)
That’s absolutely right. The police, you can see, are still here surrounding this grocery store and the parking lot where they say that gunman came here. Drove from out of town about three hours, came here, parked, was heavily armed, stepped out and opened fire. He had allegedly been here two times before to survey the area. Police also found a document, 180 pages, posted online before the shooting where he wrote racist and antisemitic ideas. So authorities, as you heard in this press conference just a few moments ago, investigating this attack as a federal hate crime. Now, as you can imagine, a community here is still really shaken for the last several hours.
Stephanie Ramos: (24:03)
… community here is still really shaken. For the last several hours community leaders and pastors have gathered here to try and comfort the city. We’ve spoken to survivors that are traumatized, understandably. One woman said she was leaving the Family Dollar store, which is just a few feet away from the grocery store here. She was leaving that store with her nine year old daughter when she heard those gunshots. She said she picked up her baby girl and she ran in the opposite direction. She was in tears still, saying that her daughter is traumatized. She doesn’t want to walk outside. She doesn’t want to walk home. She’s staying with family members.
Stephanie Ramos: (24:34)
Another woman we spoke to was inside the grocery store. She works in the grocery store with her 20 year old daughter. She says that that retired officer who was working as a security guard here saved so many lives. She says in this community, they are used to hearing shots outside. And when they heard the gunshots yesterday, everybody froze, she said. She said nobody moved. But when she saw that officer pull out his weapon to try and stop the gunman identified as 18 year old Payton Gendron, and she says that that’s when everybody started to run out the building the opposite direction. So the officers here in that press conference calling that retired officer a hero. Survivors doing the same, but this community trying to just come together and heal after this traumatic situation here in Buffalo.
Eva Pilgrim: (25:26)
Stephanie Ramos Flores there in Buffalo. And president Biden speaking at the Capitol just a short time ago addressing the shooting during a memorial for fallen police officers.
President Biden: (25:35)
Let me say a word about yesterday’s mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. A lone gunman, armed with weapons of war and hate filled soul shot and killed 10 innocence people in cold blood at a grocery store on Saturday afternoon. Jill and I, like all of you, pray for the victims and their families and a devastated community. I’ve been receiving updates from my team in the White House that’s in close contact with the justice department. We’re still gathering the facts, while already the justice department has stated publicly that it is investigating the matter as a hate crime, racially motivated act of white supremacy and violent extremism. As they do, we must all work together to address the hate that remains the stain on the soul of America. Our hearts are heavy once again, but our resolve must never, ever waver.
Eva Pilgrim: (26:41)
And let’s get right to ABC chief White House correspondent, Cecilia Vega. You heard the president there with that call to all Americans to combat the hate.
Cecilia Vega: (26:49)
Yeah, Eva, exactly. And in a statement earlier, he is calling this attack a hate fueled domestic terror, saying that this racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation. Look, the irony right now and the timing of all of this, the White House in the last couple of days has really been trying to bring attention to the issue of gun violence in this country. There were law enforcement officers and mayors at the White House just as recently as Friday talking about gun violence. And you heard from the officials there in Buffalo, this attack, of course as we often hear in the wake of attacks like this, spurring increased calls for action from Washington when it comes to gun violence. We heard it from the governor of New York, we have heard it from the mayor of Buffalo this morning, but here’s the sad reality right now, Eva, according to one group who tracks this. We’re looking at 198 mass shootings.
Cecilia Vega: (27:39)
That’s four more people shot just this year alone. So these numbers are overwhelming, and it is very telling that in the president’s statement, there was no mention of gun control policy. That’s because this issue, as we’ve been saying for so long now, is just paralyzed, completely stalled on Capitol Hill right now. This issue of a lone wolf attack, however an extremist attack, has been a major concern for law enforcement in this country, a major concern for this White House. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice creating a task force to try and find these attacks or these threats and tackle these threats before they become reality of an attack. And remember, it’s important to remind everyone, this is a president who ran for office because of what happened, that horrible hate filled attack in Charlottesville. But this is the reality, Eva, we are dealing with right now and how it shows how difficult it is, despite these efforts in Washington to tackle this issue of lone wolfs, we are looking at yet another racist, hate-filled attack, just how difficult it’s for Washington to go after this.
Eva Pilgrim: (28:41)
Definitely. Cecilia Vega for us there at the White House. And our coverage continues on ABC News Live at abcnews.com. David [inaudible 00:28:48] will anchor a special edition of World News Tonight from Buffalo. I’m Eva Pilgrim in New York. Have a good day.
Speaker 3: (28:57)
This has been a special report from ABC.
Mayor Byron Brown: (28:59)
… community will rise again, stronger than before. We’ll open up for your questions.
Thank you [inaudible 00:29:08]. You mentioned that there are state and federal warrants going out. Who are they for and what are they regarding?
Joseph Gramaglia: (29:13)
Right now warrants are being obtained for his home. Warrants are being obtained for the vehicle. A warrant was executed on the vehicle. Again, there’s social media platforms, there’s a computer, telephones, and then any other digital footprints that might come along or digital technologies.
So are there any other individuals that you’re looking into?
Joseph Gramaglia: (29:37)
At this point, the investigation is showing that he did this by himself. We are, again, looking into some other aspects that we’re not going to get into, I’m not going to share at this point, but this was a loan act here, but we are looking to anything that comes up.
Speaker 4: (29:48)
CNN over here. Commissioner, I’m wondering if you can give us a timeline. You said this morning that he was here previously. Have you been able to build out a timeline from the last 24 hours, 48 hours of this [inaudible 00:30:01]?
Joseph Gramaglia: (30:01)
So he was in the Buffalo area. He was right in this area the day before. The warrants on social media platforms, GPS technology, that’s going to help us put a much better timeline. We have identified some of the locations that he was at. We know he did some reconnaissance on the area and in the store, but as far as the timeline of when the act took place, the first 911 call came in at 2:30 PM yesterday. Our patrol officers were on scene at 2:31 according to our CAD yesterday. The officers immediately engaged the subject. As was said, he put the gun underneath his chin and our officers very courageously used every deescalation tactic that they could. They talked him down. It was a pretty one-sided fight there with the armor that he had, and they were able to safely take him into custody with no further shots being fired. It was just a tremendous act of bravery.
Speaker 4: (30:55)
Did he interact with anyone at the tops when he was there previously or was anyone [inaudible 00:31:01]?
Joseph Gramaglia: (31:01)
That I’m not going to disclose. That’s all part of the investigation.
Speaker 4: (31:04)
Yeah, I have for the US attorney. How quickly do you think we’ll see federal charges here in this case, the federal hate crime charges?
Trini Ross: (31:13)
We understand the urgency of the situation. I have surged our team to work on warrants and to work with our law enforcement partners. We will bring charges as soon as we know we have the evidence to support them.
Speaker 4: (31:27)
The attorney general gave us a little bit of information about the victims. What else can you tell us? Are you able to tell us the ages of the victims, and when do you expect to release the names?
Joseph Gramaglia: (31:40)
We are looking at potentially releasing that later today. We’ll get all that information out.
Speaker 4: (31:45)
Commissioner, there’s a lot of people on the street who are relaying to us frustration with the fact that the shooter surrendered peacefully, and saying things, pointing out that black men often in conflicts with the police have been shot for much less. Can you just respond to that criticism that is out there, or maybe just frustration in the community that we’re hearing?
Joseph Gramaglia: (32:07)
Any opportunity that we have, and that’s what we teach, to deescalate a situation. We are not looking to shoot anyone. This individual at the time put the gun to his own chin, not pointed towards the officers. The shooting had stopped at that point. And the officers moved in very quickly to deescalate. Had the need come into play where they were forced to take deadly physical force, then they would’ve acted on that. Again, keep in mind, he was heavily armed. He had metal plating, armor plating vests on, and that could have been a really bad situation, but we responded as we’re trained.
Speaker 4: (32:47)
The security guard fired at him with a weapon, right? He shot at him, and because he was wearing protective gear that had no effect on him, is that right?
Joseph Gramaglia: (32:55)
Yes. Our retired officer Salter working security there engaged the suspect, fired rounds. We have evidence that he struck him at least one time and that unfortunately had no effect.
Speaker 5: (33:06)
Associated Press, Carolyn.
When was the weapon purchased? And also given that the state police had investigated him at his high school, would there have been anything in state law or another law to prevent him from obtaining a weapon like that?
Joseph Gramaglia: (33:19)
So we’re not going to get into specifics of when the weapons were purchased. We have a timeline of that. We have a track and the ATF immediately moved on that. As far as last year, it’s been put out there that the 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, was evaluated, and then released at that point.
Speaker 5: (33:44)
Sir? Question for the governor. We’re coming on 10 years since Sandy Hook, when everyone said this will never happen again. The political environment is now probably even more difficult for the proposals that you’re mentioning. What are you going to do differently?
Governor Kathy Hochul: (34:00)
I’m going to keep fighting. Our proposals make common sense. I already pre-planned to announce the number of safety measures to protect New Yorkers on Tuesday. I’m going to continue with that press conference and make sure anytime we find a loophole, that we close it quickly. There’s actually guns, they’re called AOWs. Any other guns, believe it or not, they look like an assault weapon, but they don’t fit the description of laws right now because the criminal mind is very diabolical. And just like with ghost guns, years ago no one would’ve thought of what a ghost gun is, that you can literally order online the components of a gun that could take people’s lives. I just signed a law outlawing that. So we’re always trying to stay ahead of the criminals, but we find out that they take advantage of loopholes in our laws and I’m going to keep closing them.
Governor Kathy Hochul: (34:46)
But this also calls for a national response. What was used was not able to be purchased legally in the state of New York. The basic gun was, but the high capacity magazine associated with it had to come from another state because it is illegal in the state of New York. We need a smart national policy. And let’s start with something that is what I would say in the no brainer category after Sandy Hook. Shame on this country. Shame on Congress at that time for not passing something as basic as a background check. So I’m ready to recharge that conversation. Yes, it’s a challenging time politically, but that doesn’t mean that we should stand down and let the criminals win.
Speaker 5: (35:24)
Have you heard any offers of cooperation across party lines or across the judicial divisions on this issue?
Governor Kathy Hochul: (35:29)
No, but I expect to hear from them, because these are their constituents as well. They represent other New Yorkers, other people across this country. And this is a time when, regardless of your political philosophy or registration, leaders need to lead. Step up. Step up. This can happen in red just as easily as blue states. So we have a national moment here where the world is focused on what happened here in Buffalo. Yes, it is white supremacy, terrorism, domestic terrorism. We have to fight that, but also that coupled –
Governor Kathy Hochul: (36:03)
… terrorism. We have to fight that. But also, that coupled with the access to guns is the lethal combination that we have to continue to stop. So I call on leaders everywhere, regardless of what you may have felt about guns in the past, this is a time to say, “We actually value people’s lives,” and that’s what I’m going to be expecting.
Speaker 6: (36:18)
Governor, state police-
Speaker 7: (36:21)
Governor, on the issue of social media, what would that look like? Are you talking about legislation? Are you talking about a conversation? How would you fight hate speech without infringing on first amendment rights?
Governor Kathy Hochul: (36:32)
I understand first amendment rights very well. I have no intention of pinching upon them. However, hate speech is not protected. You cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater because people’s lives could be in danger and people rush out of there. That is settled law of the land. So there are parameters. If you’re going to be inciting people to violence, that’s not protected. So we know the limitations on what our laws can do. I’m going to make sure we’re protect at the state level, but also there is much more to do from the social media companies themselves.
Governor Kathy Hochul: (37:04)
I want them to sit in a room, look me in the eye and tell me, “Have you done everything humanly possible to make sure that you are monitoring this content the second it hits your platform? And if you’re not, then I’m going to hold you responsible.” So prove to me that there’s nothing else that can be done because they have a lot of resources. So don’t tell them you can’t afford this. There’s a lot of technology. Monitoring aspects are important to us, as well as working with our state police officers as well in our federal department.
Speaker 7: (37:36)
Have you reached out to Twitch, to Discord, to those sorts of platforms to start these conversations?
Governor Kathy Hochul: (37:37)
No, this literally happened less than one day ago. I assure you when I get back to Albany, their phones will ring.
Speaker 4: (37:45)
I need to follow up on this. The fact that this individual we’re now learning was brought in, was questioned, state police brought him in, there was a mental health evaluation, yet he was still able to get his hands on these weapons. Again, we’re seeing signs of indications that there was perhaps something going on in this person’s life, but yet no one was able to stop it. How concerning is that to you?
Governor Kathy Hochul: (38:05)
I’m very concerned about this. Obviously, this happened before I was Governor, but I’m still going to find out what happened and when it happened and we don’t exactly know how all the weapon components were attained. As I mentioned, the most lethal part of the gun, the high capacity magazine was not legally purchased in the state of New York. So obviously, a law was broken in order to either purchase that or to transport it across state lines. So we have a lot more information to find out.
Speaker 8: (38:34)
All right, three more questions [inaudible 00:38:35]
Speaker 9: (38:35)
To follow up on that for the FBI, if this kid was brought in by state police and he was evaluated and was making these comments online, did he slip through the cracks or was he on radar?
Speaker 10: (38:46)
This individual was not on the radar of the FBI. And to my knowledge, he was not on the radar beyond the incident with the state police that’s been referenced.
Speaker 4: (38:57)
But he was on the radar of the state police, right? I mean-
Speaker 10: (38:57)
That’s what I just said.
Speaker 4: (38:57)
I’m sorry. Okay.
Joseph Gramaglia: (39:00)
If I could speak to that real quick.
Speaker 4: (39:01)
I think this is an important [inaudible 00:39:02]
Joseph Gramaglia: (39:02)
It is. So the individual was brought in for mental health evaluation. He was evaluated, and then he was released. As far as when we say, “On the radar,” there was nothing picked up on the state police intelligence, nothing that was picked up on the FBI intelligence, nobody called in, nobody called any complaints. You monitor any social media, there’s a lot of people in this world that use social media. As the Governor said, as the Mayor said, social media companies have to be able to monitor keywords that might pick up on something that can then notify us. But anybody that might have been monitoring an individual’s social media also has a responsibility to notify law enforcement. Anytime any of these law enforcement agencies are notified that there might be something, we investigate it. And we can take it as far as we can take it, but at the very least, we’ll put somebody on notice that we’re aware of what they’re saying. It may not be a violation of law, but we certainly like to make sure that they are put on notice by law enforcement.
Speaker 8: (39:59)
Are we good on this topic? Jennifer?
This is for Governor Hochul. You had mentioned earlier, obviously high capacity magazines are illegal in New York state. You had alluded to earlier, perhaps this may have come from Pennsylvania. Have you had any conversations with Governor Wolf or the Pennsylvania State Police?
Governor Kathy Hochul: (40:16)
No, I mentioned Pennsylvania only because it is literally 10 minutes from the accused, the perpetrator’s home. So I just mentioned Pennsylvania. I don’t have evidence that it came from Pennsylvania, but I will say that is the reason why I established months ago a nine state gun interdiction task force, because there is an iron pipeline of guns coming up from Tennessee, from Georgia. We trace them. I know exactly where they’re coming from. They come in from Pennsylvania. Think about how easy this is. Someone wants to traffic in guns and lead them to the streets of the Bronx or Brooklyn or Buffalo or Rochester, all they have to do is go to a gun show in Pennsylvania or another state, load up their trunk with these weapons, whether it’s the magazines or the weapons themselves, drive them up, try to evade interdiction and to start selling them on our streets.
Governor Kathy Hochul: (41:06)
That’s why I have a gun task force where we’re starting to share for first time ever between nine states, all the information we’re collecting about other activities. So we’ve already identified cases where guns are being trafficked here. We’re talking to those states as well. So we’ll find out. We’ll know the origins of this particular, the component parts that led to the slaughter on the streets just a few blocks from here. But we have a larger problem than just that. These guns are coming and these parts are coming from all over the country into New York state.
Speaker 8: (41:36)
Two questions left. Any for law enforcement?
Speaker 9: (41:38)
Yes, for law enforcement. You mentioned that there may have been some interaction between the suspect and the community in the days leading up to the shooting. Can you share any more details about what that sort of interaction may have looked like?
Joseph Gramaglia: (41:52)
So what I said is if there was interaction, I’m not going to confirm that there was or there wasn’t, then we will continue to investigate that. Our homicide detectives will engage in interviews. If someone out there believes that they spoke to this individual beforehand, please contact our department and come in and speak with our homicide detectives. Anything can help.
Speaker 8: (42:13)
Richard, you mentioned that he was here yesterday for reconnaissance. Was that the first time that you know of that he was here in Buffalo? Had he been here in the past, how would you know?
Joseph Gramaglia: (42:19)
So it was the day before, on Friday, yesterday was the day that the incident occurred. We have no knowledge. We have no information at all that he was here in Buffalo anytime before this. It appears right now as we stand that Friday was the first day that he would’ve been here.
And I recognize the accused is 18 years old, but are his parents cooperating with police? Have you spoken to them?
Joseph Gramaglia: (42:42)
State police and FBI are at his house. They’ve spoken with the parents. From what I’ve been told, they’re absolutely distraught and devastated. Cooperating. But as I said, the state police and FBI are handling that part of the investigation down in that part of the state.
Speaker 11: (42:55)
Commissioner, over here. A follow up on mental health. And sorry if I’m being dense, but just to be clear. So the mental health evaluation was related to the threat at the high school? And when was that? And when was that?
Joseph Gramaglia: (43:05)
That was back in June of last year.
Speaker 11: (43:07)
So June of last year, he makes a threat at the high school, he’s brought in by state police for a mental health evaluation at that point?
Joseph Gramaglia: (43:13)
Yeah. From what I have, it was a generalized threat, not a specific threat directed at a specific place or person based on a-
Speaker 7: (43:23)
Was it racist in nature?
Joseph Gramaglia: (43:23)
Speaker 7: (43:24)
Was it a racist threat?
Joseph Gramaglia: (43:27)
No, it was not. The state police responded. They investigated, they interviewed the subject and they felt it was appropriate at that time to have that individual brought in for a mental health evaluation. State police did their job to the fullest that they could at that time.
Speaker 7: (43:40)
And this was in Conklin? This was in Bloomington? Where did that [inaudible 00:43:43]
Joseph Gramaglia: (43:43)
Down in his hometown area, in his home district.
Speaker 8: (43:49)
Thank you, everybody.
Just real quick. Has that manifesto been authenticated by [inaudible 00:43:50].
Joseph Gramaglia: (43:51)
We have it. We’re not going to comment any further on that, but we have it. It’s being evaluated at all levels of government.
Speaker 8: (43:57)
Thank you, everybody.
Speaker 7: (43:58)
Just one weapon so far that’s been seized?
Joseph Gramaglia: (44:00)
There were three weapons. There were two in the car and one in his possession.
Speaker 11: (44:05)
What were the two in the car?
Joseph Gramaglia: (44:06)
One was a rifle. One was a shotgun.
Speaker 11: (44:08)
It was a Bushmaster that he committed the crime with?
Joseph Gramaglia: (44:11)
He had an AR-15.
Speaker 8: (44:13)
Thank you, everyone. Thank you. Appreciate it.