‘This was pure evil,” said Erie County Sheriff
in an apt summary of the mass murder at a supermarket in Buffalo that appears to be racially motivated. The alleged shooter, 18-year-old
is another young man possessed by inexplicable hatred.
We’ll learn more about the shooter’s motives and mindset, but it’s worth noting a report in the Buffalo News that an official in the school Mr. Gendron attended in Conklin, N.Y., said he had spoken of wanting to go on a shooting spree. He fits the profile of other young men who become mass shooters at an age when mental illness often strikes. Keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill isn’t easy, but it’s one form of gun control that would do some good.
Mr. Gendron is suspected of being the author of a 180-page manifesto expressing racist and anti-Semitic views. He seems to have targeted the Buffalo neighborhood for its heavily black population and drove 200 miles to get there. He may have been seeking to imitate
the deranged white man who killed nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015.
Partisans are already using the massacre to leap to broader political conclusions, as they always do. There’s no doubt that a racist subculture exists in America and is spread on social media. Politicians and media figures have an obligation to condemn it and such conspiratorial notions as “white replacement theory.” But mass shooters have had many motivations in recent years, and mental illness seems to be the most significant common denominator, to the extent there is one.
Meantime, we should salute
Aaron Salter Jr.
, the security guard at the Tops Friendly Markets store. He fired at the gunman, but the bullet was reportedly blocked by body armor. Mr. Gendron then shot Salter, whose bravery may have given others time to hide or escape. Salter is the hero who speaks to the better angels of our nature.
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Appeared in the May 16, 2022, print edition.