National News

Baltimore-area nail salon explosion that injured cops, EMTs was deliberately set: Police

Baltimore County Fire Department

(BALTIMORE) -- A fire and explosion at a suburban Baltimore nail salon that injured seven people was deliberately set by an "emotionally distressed" man, authorities said Tuesday. Four police officers and two emergency medical workers were wounded in the incident.

The suspect, whose name was not immediately released, was critically injured in the blast at the Libra Nails & Spa salon in Windsor Mill about 23 miles northwest of Baltimore, according to the Baltimore County Police Department.

Baltimore County Fire Department officials said the suspect is a former employee of the nail salon, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Police officers responded to a workplace disturbance call at the nail salon, in the Security Station Shopping Center, just after 9 p.m. and encountered the suspect who was refusing to leave business, police said in a statement released to ABC News Tuesday morning.

A police spokesperson told reporters Monday night that officers called EMTs to the scene to examine the "emotionally distressed" man. While the officers and EMTs were inside the salon, the suspect suddenly ran to the back of the business, police said.

"The individual refused commands by officers and proceeded to run into the back of the store where he started a fire that produced an explosion," according to the police statement.

The four police officers and two EMTs were taken to hospitals with minor to non-life-threatening injuries, according to the statement. One officer remained in the hospital Tuesday for further observation, while the other officers and emergency medical workers were treated and released.

The suspect was placed into custody and taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, according to the statement.

Charges against the suspect are pending further investigation, police said.

A motive also remains under investigation.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Baltimore County Fire Department are assisting the probe.

Fire officials said the blaze and explosion were fueled by flammable chemicals, including acetone and nail polish remover, stored inside the business. The fire quickly engulfed the business and prompted fire officials to declare a hazmat situation.

The fire was brought under control at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

ABC News' Chad Murray contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Suspect arrested in Dallas salon shooting as FBI opens hate crime investigation

Ilkay Dede / EyeEm/ Getty Images

(DALLAS) -- Dallas police arrested a suspect in connection with the May 11 shooting of three women in a hair salon in the city's Koreatown. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime and could be linked to a series of recent shootings at Asian-run businesses in the city, police said.

The salon owner, an employee and a customer are all Korean, according to ABC affiliate station WFAA in Dallas. The women suffered nonfatal injuries and were transported to a local hospital, according to police.

Police said Tuesday morning that a suspect, who was not named, was in custody and that further information on the arrest will be provided by Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia later in the day.

The FBI is investigating the incident as a hate crime.

“The Dallas FBI Field Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District in Texas, and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice have opened a federal hate crime investigation into the incident at Hair World Salon in Dallas,” a spokesperson for the FBI field office in Dallas told ABC News in a statement on Monday. “We are in close communication with Dallas Police and are partnering together to thoroughly investigate this incident. As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to comment further at this time.”

Police met with members of the community at a town hall in Koreatown on Monday amid concerns for the public's safety.

Two of the shooting victims -- the owner and an employee -- were present at the meeting, according to WFAA. The employee spoke with the help of an interpreter and her was face covered. The women did not reveal their names.

Garcia said at a press conference on Friday that law enforcement “concluded three recent shootings of Asian run businesses may be connected” and the suspect in each incident was driving a similar vehicle.

Police said they learned from a witness report that an unknown Black male parked what appeared to be "a dark color minivan-type vehicle" on Royal Lane and then walked across the parking lot and into the establishment, allegedly opening fire as soon as he entered the salon.

Police also released a security image of a maroon minivan they said the gunmen fled the scene in.

Garcia said the shooting at the salon may be linked to one that happened a day before and one that took place last month.

Police learned from witness reports that on April 2 a driver in a red minivan drove past a strip mall of Asian-run businesses and fired shots at three businesses. No one was injured.

On Tuesday a suspect in a burgundy van or car drove by and shot into Asian-run businesses near 4849 Sunnyvale Street, police said.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have reached out to our partners to make them aware of the possible connection and ask for their assistance,” Garcia said. “This includes the FBI and member agencies of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. We are also working with North Texas police partners to determine if this criminal action has or is taking place in their jurisdictions.”

Garcia said police will be increasing the presence of high visibility patrol officers in areas in the city where there are large Asian American populations.

“We are turning to every resident of the city of Dallas to keep an eye out and safeguard our city,” Garcia said. “Hate has no place here.”

These incidents in Dallas come amid a spate of attacks targeting Asian Americans across the nation, which spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ABC News' Bill Hutchinson contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


After Buffalo shooting, experts question whether America can face its far-right extremism problem

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Within the pages of the alleged Buffalo shooter's plan to attack a Buffalo, New York supermarket, he described the radical ideals he said he cultivated on the internet.

It included racist and antisemitic rants reminiscent of the sentiments espoused by shooters who committed similar atrocities in El Paso, Texas, and Charleston, South Carolina, in recent years, according to an ABC News review of the document.

Federal security agencies have increasingly sounded the alarm on white supremacists and other far-right-wing extremists as a "significant domestic terrorism threat."

However, experts on hate in the U.S. said this most recent mass shooting highlights how little the country has done in reckoning with the growing danger of white supremacy in this country.

"We've had too many wake-up calls at this point for me to feel confident that we're going to suddenly change the current path that we are on," Michael Edison Hayden, a senior investigative reporter at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told ABC News.

White supremacists don't just look like white-hooded Ku Klux Klan members from the history books, experts said.

Radicalization can occur anywhere and without a particular group or organization to belong to thanks to the internet and the normalization of hateful rhetoric in media, experts said. It's given right-wing extremism an environment to thrive and grow.

"We better understand this is a clear and present danger to American democracy," Marc Morial, president of civil rights organization National Urban League, told ABC News.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a nonprofit policy research organization, found that alleged right-wing attacks and plots have accounted for the majority of all U.S. terrorist incidents since 1994.

"The last two years -- 2021 and 2020 -- were the highest recorded years of domestic terrorism, plots and attacks, so the trends are pretty concerning," CSIS Senior Vice President Seth Jones said in an interview with ABC News.

However, Jones said the federal government needs to do a better job collecting and releasing data on domestic terrorist attacks and plots and informing Americans about the severity of right-wing extremism.

There is no public release of such information, he said, which has made it very difficult for Americans to understand the gravity of this problem.

Since 2014, CSIS found that these attacks have been on the rise. Simultaneously, hate crimes have also been on the rise, particularly anti-Black, anti-immigrant and antisemitic attacks, according to FBI data.

"It's a movement of hatred and violence," Morial said. "This is not someone just ranting on the internet."

The normalization of white supremacy and the growing divisive rhetoric of the far-right, Hayden and Morial said, serves to exploit the concerns of vulnerable populations regarding social issues, score political points and win gains for people in power.

"As long as very wealthy people are willing to exploit these feelings of anger in the country, this is going to keep happening," Hayden said.

"The reality is, they know what they're doing when they bring up great replacement theory on the air," Hayden continued. "They know what they're doing when they dehumanize immigrants. They know what kind of effect it's going to have on people who are already predisposed to being mistrustful and frightened."

Experts said there are two routes to combatting white supremacist extremism in America -- personally and through policy.

For example, experts say America's gun violence problem has only made racist violence more deadly. White supremacy has been the motive behind several fatal mass shootings in recent years, past ABC News reporting shows. Experts recommend gun control efforts as a potential solution to deadly extremism.

"This is a deep-seated challenge in the United States, particularly in a culture where individuals have such easy access to guns," Jones said. "That's the difference, frankly, between the US and Europe right now, which also has a significant white supremacist challenge in Germany, the U.K., several Nordic countries. What they don't have, though, is easy access to guns."

Others stress the importance of getting government funding for improved security in community centers and gathering places, as well as prevention programs and resources that intervene in the radicalization process.

On a personal level, experts recommend calling out racism and white supremacy in your communities as another way to de-normalize and de-platform racist narratives.

Experts also recommend watching out for loved ones who may be encountering extremist ideals online, and avoid leaving them isolated. They say isolation and vulnerability can become a pathway to radicalization.

"Your silence is your acceptance," Rashawn Ray, senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, told ABC News.

"Unfortunately, this is a part of the DNA that created the United States of America and even though there has been progress, these sorts of incidents continue to show that we are not as far as we think we are," Ray said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


If Roe is overturned, experts fear for incarcerated people and reproductive care

WIN-Initiative/Neleman/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- For people in jails and prisons across the country, where reproductive health care is already abysmal, the potential end of Roe v. Wade is a haunting prospect.

"[People are] going to be forced to carry a pregnancy and be forced to give birth -- that literally will be part of their sentence, their punishment," said Carolyn Sufrin, associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "It's hard to predict the depths of trauma and adverse health effects that we might see with this, but I think we can imagine that it's going to be profound."

Women are the fastest growing incarcerated demographic, with more than 200,000 women incarcerated right now. Estimates show that at least 58,000 pregnant people enter the carceral system each year, according to The Sentencing Project and the Prison Policy Initiative.

"Overturning Roe is going to force thousands of incarcerated people to give birth and carry pregnancies in health care systems that have been proven to not be capable of providing adequate prenatal care," said Corene Kendrick, the deputy director of the ACLU National Prison Project.

Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws that could go into effect if federal abortion protections are demolished, according to the Guttmacher Institute. These laws effectively ban all abortions, with some banning abortion after six or eight weeks of pregnancy.

At least seven of these states have some of the nation's highest rates of female incarceration, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics data: Idaho, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wyoming, Kentucky, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Between trigger laws and other set or expected laws, at least 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion if the Supreme Court weakens or overturns Roe v. Wade, per Guttmacher. This means being forced to give birth behind bars could become a reality for tens of thousands of people each year.

Adequate reproductive care -- and especially abortion access -- is hard to come by in these facilities as it is. There are currently no federal standards for reproductive care and no required system of oversight when it comes to providing health care in these facilities.

Reports have shown that some people are shackled to bedposts while giving birth, and others have been forced to endure labor in solitary confinement. Some people have experienced miscarriages or other pregnancy complications from their jail cell, Sufrin and Kendrick said.

"Incarceration is an inherently traumatizing and right-violating experience," Sufrin said. "In the most extreme cases, we see pregnant people who are in active labor and are clearly in pain and contracting or their water's broken and they're bleeding -- they're ignored or minimized and then they give birth in their jail cells."

Alejandra Pablos, a formerly incarcerated woman and reproductive justice organizer, told ABC News she believes she had no bodily autonomy while incarcerated.

While she was detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities, she said she remembers strict call times for doctors, poor nutrition and hurdles toward accessing basic care like birth control and OB-GYN visits.

"For me, as long as these things exist -- prisons, cages, threats to our our self determination, the right to make decisions over my sexuality, my body -- we will never have reproductive justice in the U.S." Pablos told ABC News.

Pregnant incarcerated people are also at higher risk of miscarriage, premature delivery and low birth weight.

"There's been numerous examples over the years across the country, of people in jails and prisons who did not receive appropriate prenatal care and suffered miscarriages, stillbirths or other negative outcomes," Kendrick said.

As for abortions, a 2021 Guttmacher study found that many prisons and jails make incarcerated women pay for the treatment -- of the 19 state prisons studied that allowed abortions, two-thirds of them required the incarcerated woman to pay for the treatment.

Of the jails that allowed abortions, 25% of those required the incarcerated woman to pay for the procedure. Of the pregnancies that ended during the study, 1.3% of instances in prisons and 15% in jails were abortions.

Several jails and prisons in states that are hostile toward abortion did not allow abortions at all.

"Prisons and jails are not the place where people who are pregnant should be ever, " Kendrick said.

She instead recommended diversion programs or early release for pregnant people, considering a vast majority of incarcerated women are charged or convicted of nonviolent offenses.

At least a quarter of women in jails have not been convicted of a crime, the Prison Policy Initiative states.

"They're there because they are too poor to afford to bail out to be back with their families," Kendrick said.

If Roe is overturned, experts say these cracks in the foundations of abortion and reproductive care in jails, prisons and other detention centers will only make life more dangerous for women behind bars.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


How 'replacement theory' became prominent in mainstream US politics

Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- The 18-year-old suspect who allegedly shot and killed 10 people at a supermarket on Saturday in the heart of a Black community in Buffalo, New York appears to have been motivated by a racist, far-right conspiracy theory that has increasingly found footing in mainstream U.S. politics.

Before traveling more than three hours from Conklin, New York, to the Tops Friendly Market to attack Black people, the alleged gunman, Payton S. Gendron, is believed to have posted a 180-page document on the internet fixated on the notion of "replacement theory," according to authorities.

"Great Replacement theory is the notion that people from minority populations, both here and in Europe, are replacing the existing white, largely Christian [population]," said Larry Rosenthal, chair and lead researcher of the Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies.

The theory was embraced by far-right white nationalist groups globally and has inspired targeted mass killings, including the 2015 Charleston church shooting, the 2018 Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, the 2019 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso and the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand -- incidents that appear to have influenced the alleged Buffalo gunman.

The posts that investigators are looking at include online writings in which Gendron praises other mass shooters who were also motivated by racist ideology, including South Carolina church shooter Dylann Roof and the New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant.

Rosenthal told ABC News that there are various "manifestations" of this ideology across the spectrum of the right in the U.S., but that in recent years those expressions have become more "explicit" and have "assumed rhetorical predominance" in the Republican Party.

"The magnitude of how much replacement theory has infiltrated [the] spectrum of the right in this country is something we haven't seen before," he added.

One in three American adults believe in elements of "replacement theory," while 17% believe in both tenets -- that a group of people is intentionally working to replace "native-born" Americans with immigrants for electoral gain and that immigrants lead to a loss of political, cultural and economic influence among "native-born" Americans, according to an AP-NORC poll released in May. Meanwhile, Republicans are more likely to be conspirational thinkers, data shows. And 49% of high conspirational thinkers who are Republicans believe in replacement theory, compared to 42% of high conspirational thinkers who identify as Democrats.

'An old idea'

"Replacement theory" is "a newer framework for an old idea," according to Crystal Fleming, a sociologist at Stony Brook University who studies white supremacy.

"The idea that people who are racially defined as white are entitled to displace other people, to enslave other people, to colonize other people and literally replace them has been a bedrock of modern racism," Fleming told ABC News.

Fleming said the ideology now known as "replacement theory" originated in the French nationalist movement of the 1900s.

"There were French nationalists who proclaimed that France would be taken over by, you know, outsiders and there was a way in which that ideology was shrouded in antisemitism and xenophobia," she said.

"Replacement theory" was again popularized in the 1970s by an apocalyptic 1973 novel by Jean Raspail titled, The Camp of the Saints, in which Indian refugees invade France, according to Rosenthal.

And in contemporary times, the term "the great replacement" was coined by French nationalist writer Renaud Camus, who authored a 2011 book titled Le Grand Remplacement, arguing that white Europeans are being "colonized" by non-white immigrants and face a threat of "extinction."

"It had immense resonance on the right here and around the world," Rosenthal said, explaining that fear of and hostility toward non-white immigrants was a rallying cry of the Tea Party movement and was espoused by politicians like 2012 Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.

Making a 'comeback'

The notion of "replacement theory" was prevalent in the U.S. as early as the 1920s, according to Rosenthal and was embraced by the fringes of the far-right for decades.

But the rise of former President Donald Trump in recent years propelled the theory into mainstream U.S. politics, according to some experts.

"Donald Trump was the carrier of this. Trump was the expression of this in the USA, as Brexit was the expression of it in Britain, as the party of Marine LePen was in France," Rosenthal said.

"This fear of being 'replaced by minorities' -- that is Donald Trump's legacy in the USA," he added.

Trump's anti-immigration platform -- punctuated by a call to build a wall on the border of the U.S.-Mexico border -- was the cornerstone of his 2016 campaign. In his 2015 campaign announcement, Trump called Mexicans "rapists" and said immigrants were bringing crime and drugs across the border.

Rosenthal said that "replacement theory" made what he considers "its strongest debut on the national scene," at the so-called Unite the Right rally in August 2017 when hundreds of so-called alt-right groups took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, to violently protest the removal of Confederate monuments.

Chants like "You will not replace us" and "Jews will not replace us" dominated the rally. One person died and dozens were injured after a white supremacist drive a car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

"It went to the heart of the grievances of the far right in the USA, the grievances that...minorities were essentially pushing them out of -- dispossessing them of their place at the tables of power and privilege in the United States," Rosenthal said.

Amid bipartisan outcry, Trump refused to condemn the rally and insisted there are "very fine people on both sides" -- an answer that he repeatedly defended throughout his presidency, telling ABC News in 2019 that he "answered perfectly."

Throughout his presidency, Trump repeatedly used the word "invasion" to describe undocumented immigrants who are coming to the United States, used derogatory language to describe immigrants from Africa and Haiti and suggested that the U.S. should accept immigrants from countries like Norway, a largely white nation.

And in 2020, Trump stoked fears about immigration and popularized the phrase "Take back our country," which became a rallying cry of his campaign against now-President Joe Biden. In social media posts and at various campaign rallies, Trump warned that the U.S. would be "overrun" by refugees if Biden is elected.

ABC News has reached out to the former president but a request for comment was not returned.

Stoking fears

Rosenthal said that while references to "replacement theory" by politicians and political commentators have been more "implicit" in the past, some Republicans are becoming more "explicit" in referencing the theory to stoke fears about demographic change in the U.S.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson -- a Trump ally -- directly referred to the "replacement theory" in an April 2021 broadcast, claiming that "the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World." The notion was repeatedly promoted by various political commentators and politicians on the conservative network.

Fox News pointed ABC News on Monday to Carlson's past comments repeatedly condemning political violence.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted in Sept. 2021 that Carlson is “correct.” The Republican congressman also criticized the Biden administration's immigration policies in an April letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, claiming that a surge of undocumented immigrants "is an attack on our sovereignty, and nothing less than a conscious decision to rewrite the rules of civilization, dissolve our borders, undermine our nation state, and displace our people."

ABC News has reached out to Gaetz but a request for comment was not immediately returned.

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik -- the No. 3 Republican in the House -- claimed in a Facebook campaign ad last August that Democrats are planning to "grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants" who "will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington."

Following the Buffalo mass shooting, Stefanik and others became a target of criticism for appearing to draw on the idea of “replacement theory” in their rhetoric.

Stefanik’s office said Monday that making any link between her past comments and the shooting was a "new disgusting low" for Democrats and "Never Trump" Republicans, as well as the media.

Although Fleming said it is "indisputable" that Trump "helped popularize" the ideas behind "replacement theory," she said he would not have been successful if a large part of the American electorate and political leaders did not hold similar views.

"We are certainly seeing a continuation of former President Trump's influence," Fleming said. "Candidates that he endorses … have a great deal of attention and influence, as well. But again, it's never just been Trump."

"He could not have been elected president if those ideas are not already deeply embedded in our politics," she added.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Document appears to show Buffalo shooter's planning including March trip to supermarket

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- An online document obtained by ABC News appears to chronicle how Payton Gendron carefully planned out his attack at least two months before he allegedly shot and killed 10 people at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, according to law enforcement sources.

According to the document, Gendron, on March 8, drove to Buffalo and visited the supermarket, where he was questioned by a security guard at the store as he was compiling detailed plans of the location.

The 589-page document, which is separate from the 180-page hate-filled screed Gendron is alleged to have posted online just before the massacre, includes sketches of the supermarket, including the makeup of different aisles, with notes on how to navigate around quickly.

Law enforcement officials are investigating the document's origins and authenticity as they try to determine who may have had access to it.

Sources tell ABC News that the document is a compilation of messages posted to the online community platform Discord starting in 2021.

According to the Washington Post, which was first to report on the document, it was uploaded to the file-sharing site MediaFire by an anonymous user on April 29, and was accessible until Monday. The document was deleted shortly after the Post contacted the platform for comment, the Post said.

On a conference call Tuesday with state and local partners, law enforcement officials said that Gendron began posting threads to Discord regarding body armor in the summer of 2021, according to a source familiar with the phone call. In April of 2022, the threads also taunted federal law enforcement, officials on the call said.

ABC News Consultant and former Department of Homeland Security official John Cohen said Discord is commonly used by high school kids and gamers.

"Because the creator of a chat group has control over content, it has also increasingly become a platform of choice for violent extremists," Cohen said.

It is unclear who, if anyone, had access to these posts.

The document details Gendron's interactions with what he describes as a black armed security guard during his March visit to the supermarket.

According to authorities, a security guard was killed during Saturday's attack after firing at Gendron, who was protected by body armor.

Another post describes the Tops supermarket as the first location to be targeted, and goes on to list two other nearby locations to possibly attack, including a deli and a barbershop.

In a bulletin published Monday by the New York Police Department and obtained by ABC News, officials said this type of online communication "underscores that an online connection to an extremist culture and ideology through social media, online gaming platforms, or anonymous message boards like 4chan, can be equally effective in mobilizing individuals to violence as connections to real-world groups."

"Online gaming platforms, in particular Twitch and Discord, have become popular social media alternatives for far-right extremists due to minimal content moderation, as opposed to more mainstream social media platforms," the NYPD bulletin said.

Thomas Holt, director and professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, told ABC News that the content in these platforms has "changed over time" and that "some groups have radicalized more than others."

Some extremist users prefer the platforms because the rules governing content are left to individual moderators, said Holt.

"In these forums you can kind of act as you wish, and it just depends on the moderators of either the subsection or the overall site to take action -- and that's highly variable," Holt said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


FDA, Abbott agree on plan to resume production of infant formula at Michigan plant

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- In a move to ease a nationwide shortage of infant formula, the Food and Drug Administration on Monday said it has agreed with Abbott Nutrition on a plan to reopen the company’s manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, after it was shut down following the discovery of a deadly bacteria inside.

The FDA also announced Monday it would make it easier for global manufacturers to sell their product inside the U.S. so long as they meet certain criteria.

Officials cautioned it might still take weeks before many parents see more infant formula on shelves, either from the Sturgis facility or from foreign suppliers. But the two developments were hopeful signs the crisis would resolve.

"With these additional flexibilities in place, we anticipate that additional products can quickly hit U.S. stores," FDA Commissioner Bob Califf told reporters in a press call, adding that he expects supply will "continue to improve over the next couple of months."

Companies that manufacture infant formula were already dealing with supply chain issues last fall when the FDA began investigating reports that four infants in three states fell ill with bacterial infections. After inspectors found a bacteria called Cronobacter sakazakii inside Abbott's Sturgis factory last February, Abbott closed its plant and agreed to a voluntary recall.

Abbott maintains that there is still no conclusive evidence linking its formula to four infant illnesses, which included two deaths.

"The infants consumed four different types of our formula made over the course of nearly a year and the illnesses took place over several months in three different states," Abbott tweeted last week. "The formula from this plant did not cause these infant illnesses."

FDA officials on Monday, however, cautioned against any conclusions in the cases and said the investigation remains ongoing. They noted in particular that genetic sequencing of bacteria was only provided in two of the four cases and that more work needs to be done to rule out the causes.

The Sturgis facility closure seemed to be the tipping point for the supply crunch because of Abbott’s heavy influence in the U.S. market, where 90% of the nation’s supply comes from just four companies.

Also problematic was that the Sturgis facility was a top producer of specialty formula required by infants with specific medical needs.

According to Abbott, the latest agreement with the FDA lays out "the steps necessary to resume production and maintain the facility" but remains subject to court approval.

Abbott said it could restart operations at the site within two weeks pending an official green light from the FDA and that it would take six to eight weeks after that before the product is back on shelves.

"Our number one priority is getting infants and families the high-quality formulas they need, and this is a major step toward re-opening our Sturgis facility so we can ease the nationwide formula shortage," said Robert B. Ford, chairman and chief executive officer of Abbott.

The FDA on Monday also announced it is easing import restrictions on foreign-made infant formula. The FDA said it is already in discussions with "some manufacturers and suppliers" regarding additional supply. It does not say which manufacturers, but said it's casting a broad net.

The United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand have health and safety inspections similar to the United States, and new imports could potentially come from those places, according to one senior Biden administration official.

The FDA said global manufacturers interested in selling formula inside the U.S. must submit information about their products to regulators.

The FDA will, in turn, "quickly evaluate whether the product can be used safely and whether it provides adequate nutrition,” the agency said in a statement.

The U.S. normally produces 98% of the infant formula it consumes, according to the FDA.

Officials couldn't predict exactly how soon parents might see imported product on shelves other than to say supply would gradually improve over the next two months.

"I think we're looking at weeks in terms of getting the imported product into the market," said Susan Mayne, director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Buffalo suspect had plans to continue his killing rampage: Commissioner

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old who allegedly gunned down 10 people -- all of whom were Black -- at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, would have continued his rampage had he not been stopped, Buffalo Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told ABC News.

"We have uncovered information that if he escaped the [Tops] supermarket, he had plans to continue his attack," Gramaglia said. "He had plans to continue driving down Jefferson Ave. to shoot more Black people ... possibly go to another store [or] location."

Authorities are calling Saturday's massacre a "racially motivated hate crime."

"This was well-planned ... by a sick person," Gramaglia said.

Gendron -- who is from Conklin, New York, about 200 miles from Buffalo -- drove to Buffalo on March 8 and visited the Tops supermarket, according to a document obtained by ABC News. He was confronted by a security guard at the store as he was compiling detailed plans of the location.

The document included sketches of the store where he outlined different aisles and how he would navigate around quickly.

Gendron allegedly dropped off ammunition at his best friends house on Friday, the day before the shooting, Matthew Casado, 19, who has known Gendron since the second grade, told ABC News.

He allegedly showed up to Casado’s Conklin house unannounced, Casado, who described himself as one of Gendron's best friends, said. One of Casado's roommates let Gendron in around 8 a.m. and Gendron dropped off five boxes of ammo, Casado said.

Casado was away at work and later received a text from Gendron around 4:30 p.m saying that he, “put ammo cans in my room because he needed space to arrange in his house,” Casado said. Gendron said that he would come get the munitions around 7:30 p.m. that night but never showed up, Casado said.

Casado’s family later called the authorities and they picked up the ammo, he said.

Casado, who is Hispanic, said Gendron never stuck out to him as racist.

“Up until Saturday when I got the news, I always thought he was a kind harmless person. He never stuck out to me as dangerous. He never stuck out to me as racist,” he told ABC News.

Pamela Burdock, Casado’s mother, who said she was like a second mother to Gendron, said the suspected shooter’s parents did not allow him to play violent video games.

"Payton didn’t play video games that had guns. He wasn’t allowed to. He wasn’t allowed to at his house, and when he came here, he chose not to. He respected his parents' wishes,” she said.

While Casado would play Call of Duty, Gendron would play on his phone or sit in another room, Casado said.

"I love Payton. He was like my other child. I never had a problem with him. He was always respectful. He was nice to me … It’s breaking my heart that he did this,” Burdock said.

Evidence points to Gendron self-radicalizing when the pandemic began, spending inordinate amounts of time engrossing himself on hate posts on social media, according to a senior law enforcement source briefed on the case.

Law enforcement assessed that in May 2020, the teen watched a 17-minute video of the gunman who attacked two mosques in New Zealand in 2019, killing 51 people.

In recent months and weeks, some of the items Gendron posted on social media became increasingly violent in tone, a senior law enforcement source said.

Some of the online postings of Payton Gendron that were part of the over-500 page document were written online in a private group chat on the social media platform Discord, sources told ABC News. It is unclear who had access to the group.

Discord is a popular platform mostly with high school students and has been used to spread conspiracy theories, said former Department of Homeland Security official and ABC News Consultant John Cohen.

The platform can be used to message users privately or as a public messaging board for other users to see, Thomas Holt, director and professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, told ABC News. It depends on the user profile to determine what type of privacy settings to have, he added.

"In these forums you can kind of act as you wish, and it just depends on the moderators of either subsection or the overall site to take action and that’s highly variable," Holt said of the platforms containing message boards Gendron allegedly used, which include 4chan and 8chan as well.

FBI Director Christopher Wray described the shooting as a "targeted attack" and a "hate crime" during a conference call Monday with faith leaders, civil rights leaders, as well as private sector and local, state and federal law enforcement partners.

Wray offered his deepest condolences to the victims and their families and to the entire community of Buffalo for what he called a “despicable attack.”

"I want to be clear, for my part, from everything we know, this was a targeted attack, a hate crime, and an act of racially motivated violent extremism,” said Wray said "While there remain a lot of unknowns as there always do in an investigation at this stage, what is absolutely certain is that we at the FBI are committed to comprehensively and aggressively investigating Saturday’s attack."

Wrap continued, "Racially motivated violence will not be tolerated in this country."

Officers responded to Saturday's shooting within one minute and when they approached the suspect, the teen put his assault rifle to his neck, according to the commissioner.

The commissioner praised the responding officers who he said deescalated the situation and convinced the gunman to drop his weapon, saving countless lives.

Multiple high-capacity magazines were recovered on Gendron and in his car, the commissioner said. While he declined to say what evidence pointed to additional shooting plans, the commissioner said investigators have been going through his phone and other electronics.

Police determined Gendron arrived in Buffalo on Friday via license plate reader and other evidence, the commissioner said. Police are still working to determine where he stayed overnight before Saturday's attack.

Shonnell Harris Teague, an operations manager at Tops, said she saw Gendron sitting on a bench outside of the store on Friday afternoon. She said he was there for several hours with a camper bag on his back, dressed in the same camouflage outfit he wore Saturday.

She said Gendron entered the store Friday evening, and appeared as if he was bothering customers. Teague asked him to leave and he did so without an argument.

The next time Teague saw him was on Saturday as a mass shooting unfolded at her store. She escaped out of the back when she saw Gendron.

"I see him with his gear on and his gun and how it was all strapped on. ... I seen all the other bodies on the ground. ... It was just a nightmare," she said.

Multiple Buffalo officials are urging community members, including children, to take advantage of mental health resources in the wake of the tragedy.

President Joe Biden is expected to meet with victims and their relatives during his trip to Buffalo Tuesday to offer them comfort and "grieve with them," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Gendron has been arraigned on one count of first-degree murder and is due back in court on May 19.

Gendron underwent a mental health evaluation after he expressed a desire last June to carry out a murder-suicide. But he was still able to legally buy the semiautomatic rifle police said was used in the attack because no criminal charges resulted from his encounter with New York State Police.

Gramaglia told ABC News the nature of Gendron’s threat last June was "generalized" and included nothing specific.

Meanwhile, a Buffalo man, Joseph Chowaniec, has been charged with making terroristic threats after he allegedly referenced the supermarket shooting during threatening phone calls to a pizzeria and a brewery on Sunday, the Erie County District Attorney's Office said.

"Let this case send a message," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said Monday. "He's facing seven years in jail -- and that's what anyone in the public is gonna face if … they want to reference the awful tragedy at Tops."

Chowaniec, 52, was arraigned on Monday and is set to return to court on May 20.

ABC News' Pierre Thomas, Luke Barr and Miles Cohen contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


California church shooting suspect motivated by Taiwan-China conflict: Police

Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(LAGUNA WOODS, Calif.) -- The deadly shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, California, on Sunday, was motivated by the political tension between China and Taiwan, authorities said Monday.

One person was killed and five were wounded, four critically, in the shooting inside the Geneva Presbyterian Church, the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

All victims are adults and range in age from 66 to 92 years old, the sheriff's office said.

A group of churchgoers detained the suspect and hogtied his legs with an extension cord and confiscated two handguns from him before more people could be shot, according to Jeff Hallock, Undersheriff at the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

"That group of churchgoers displayed what we believed exceptional heroism, heroism and bravery in interfering or intervening to stop the suspect," Hallock said.

The two victims taken to Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California, are now in good condition, the hospital said Monday.

The suspect was identified Monday in Orange County jail records as 68-year-old Las Vegas resident David Chou. He is expected to be charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder and is being held on $1 million bail, jail records show.

The suspect secured the doors and tried to super glue the locks so victims could not leave, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Monday. Law enforcement found more ammunition and Molotov cocktails placed around the church.

The FBI has opened a federal hate crimes investigation into the shooting.

Chou is Chinese but an American citizen, officials said. He lived alone in Las Vegas and has a wife and child who are not living in the U.S.

Authorities believe Chou's anger began when he lived in Taiwan, where he felt he was an outsider, and his anti-Taiwan views were not accepted, Barnes said.

Chou's wife and son still live in Taiwan, but Chou has lived alone in the U.S. for many years, Barnes said, adding that Chou's views have become more radical as tensions between China and Taiwan have escalated.

Investigators found writings in Chou's car that described his hatred for Taiwan, Barnes said, adding that they were not a manifesto, but rather "notes." Authorities hypothesize that Chou may have targeted the Orange County church because it was the closest, Barnes said.

The shooting occurred during a lunch banquet being held at the church, which caters to the Taiwanese population in Southern California.

The Rev. Bill Chang said in a statement Monday: "Thank you for your concern and continued prayers. While my return to the United States, worship at the church and luncheon was [a] joyous occasion, the events that followed have deeply impacted the community and me."

Chang said he was "on the podium taking photos and witnessed the gunman randomly fire his gun at congregants."

"I was in shock during these events and about 10-15 steps away from him. When he lowered his gun after several shots, I rushed down the platform and picked up a chair and threw it at the gunman. The gunman fell to the floor at this time and [an] additional congregant courageously came to help restrain him while others called 911," Chang said.

"The Presbytery of Los Ranchos is deeply saddened by a fatal shooting that occurred at a lunch reception honoring a former pastor of the Taiwanese congregation that nests at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods," Tom Cramer, Presbytery head of staff, said in a statement Sunday. "Please keep the leadership of the Taiwanese congregation and Geneva in your prayers as they care for those traumatized by this shooting."

China has long held that Taiwan is part of its country, while Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation dating back to when Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek fled the mainland as the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949.

The shooting was reported at about 1:26 p.m. local time, authorities said.

There were 30 to 40 people inside the church when the shooting began, officials said.

Dr. John Cheng, 52, a prominent doctor in the area, was identified as the only person killed in the attack. He is being called a hero for saving lives. He charged the suspect and tried to disarm him allowing others to jump in, Barnes said. During the process, Cheng was shot and killed. Without his actions, the sheriff and FBI believes there would have been more people shot.

The two handguns found at the scene were legally purchased by Chou in Las Vegas, investigators said.

ABC News' Alex Stone contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


First all-Black team summits Everest

Full Circle Everest via Instagram

(NEW YORK) -- The first all-Black Mount Everest expedition team, Full Circle Everest, has reached the summit of the highest mountain on Earth, and their excitement can be felt from thousands of feet below.

The seven climbers who reached the summit include Manoah Ainuu, Eddie Taylor, Rosemary Saal, Demond “Dom” Mullins, Thomas Moore, James “KG” Kagami and Evan Green.

According to the team, their success nearly doubles the number of Black climbers who have climbed the mountain, which stands at more than 29,000 feet high.

“I am deeply honored to report that seven members of the Full Circle Everest team reached the summit on May 12," said Full Circle Everest leader Philip Henderson. "While a few members, including myself, did not summit, all members of the climb and Sherpa teams have safely returned to Base Camp where we will celebrate this historic moment!”

This trek lures hundreds of climbers each year, but few Black climbers have made the trip. For these climbers, the treacherous climb represented the barriers Black communities face in accessing outdoor sports and spaces.

They hope to inspire the next generation of Black athletes, climbers and mountaineers to take themselves to new heights.

"My big goal with this project is to help demystify the process of climbing your Everest; it doesn't necessarily need to be Everest," Abby Dione, a member of Full Circle Everest, told ABC News.

Similarly, Eddie Taylor, another climber on the team, also hopes to be an inspiration for future outdoor sports athletes.

"Everest is still gonna be hard. It's still going to be this big mountain, but it's going to be something that you don't feel like it's unattainable.

The team tracked their journey on Flipgrid, as people from all across the world cheered on the history-making team.

The team was led by local Sherpa climbing guides, who help hundreds of mountaineers up Everest. The Full Circle Everest team said they could not have made this historic climb without their guidance.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


From Buffalo to Houston, 8 US cities rocked by violent weekend of shootings

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A grocery store, a park, a church and a flea market were among the locations where gunfire erupted over the weekend in eight U.S. cities, leaving at least 65 people shot, 17 fatally.

The shootings came over a violent 72-hour stretch and included multiple victims in all of the episodes, prompting elected leaders in two of the cities to impose new curfews.

The most devastating incident occurred Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, New York, when a white man wielding an AR-15-style rifle allegedly shot 13 people, 10 fatally, at a supermarket in what investigators suspect was a "racially motivated hate crime" targeting Black people.

21 injured in Milwaukee
The weekend of violence began Friday night in Milwaukee when 21 people were shot in three separate incidents that occurred in the downtown Deer District, where an estimated crowd of 11,000 people had gathered outside the Fiserv Forum to cheer on the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA team's playoff game against the Boston Celtics.

Milwaukee police said a confrontation broke out on the street between two groups and led to an exchange of gunfire that left 17 people injured. Over the next two-hour period, two other shootings left four additional people wounded.

One person, a 19-year-old man, was taken into custody, police said.

As a result of the shootings, city leaders imposed an 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. temporary curfew on Saturday and Sunday in the downtown entertainment area for people under 21 years old and threatened anyone caught breaking curfew with a $691 fine.

5 shot, 2 fatally, in Dallas
Just as bars and nightclubs were closing around 2 a.m. Friday in Dallas' Deep Ellum entertainment district, gunfire erupted, police said. Five people were shot, two fatally, near a barbecue truck where people were lined up, police said.

The Dallas Police Department said the shooting started when a man standing on the sidewalk near the barbecue was confronted by two other men. Police said the men all drew firearms and fired at each other, leaving all three men wounded as well as two innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire.

No arrests have been announced.

Buffalo mass shooting leaves 10 dead
A Tops Supermarket was busy with shoppers when an 18-year-old white man wearing camouflage clothing, a helmet, body armor and armed with a Bushmaster XM-15 semiautomatic rifle allegedly shot 13 people, 10 fatally. Investigators believe the assailant, who surrendered to police, was motivated by hate and was aiming to kill as many Black people as possible.

Police said 11 of the 13 people shot were Black, including the 10 killed.

3 shot, 1 fatally, in and around Chicago's Millennium Park
A 16-year-old boy was fatally shot in the chest around 7:30 p.m. Saturday near "The Bean" sculpture in Chicago Millennium Park, a major tourist attraction.

A 17-year-old boy, allegedly armed with a ghost gun, a weapon with no serial number and can't be traced, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Police said the shooting happened as hundreds of unruly teens took over Millennium Park and began flooding nearby the streets, where two other young people were shot and wounded. Chicago police said 26 minors and five adults were arrested in the park for unlawful disturbances Saturday evening and that officers seized eight guns.

The shooting prompted Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to declare a curfew barring juveniles 17 and under who are unaccompanied by an adult from entering Millennium Park after 6 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.

5 shot, 1 fatally, at church in Orange County, California
One person was killed and five were wounded in a shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, California, on Sunday, authorities said.

Four people were critically hurt and one person suffered minor injuries from the shooting inside the Geneva Presbyterian Church, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office. All victims are adults and range in age from 66 to 92, the sheriff's office said.

On Monday, the Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said evidence indicates the shooting was a "politically motivated hate crime" against the Taiwanese community. Four of the five victims in the shooting held Taiwanese citizenship, the sheriff's office said.

The suspect, identified Monday through Orange County jail records as 68-year-old Las Vegas resident David Chou, was detained by churchgoers who hogtied his legs and held him for police, authorities said.

7 shot in Winston-Salem
Seven people were injured near a park in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when a fight broke out around 8 p.m. Sunday and multiple people fired more than 50 shots, including bullets that hit two men in a moving car on nearby Highway 52.

No arrests have been made.

5 shot, 1 fatally, in Amarillo, Texas
Five people were shot, one fatally, when gunfire broke out early Sunday at an after-hours club in Amarillo, Texas, police said.

The Amarillo Police Department said there were possibly 75 to 100 people inside the club when the shooting began. Police said they are investigating whether the shooting is related to another shooting that occurred earlier Sunday at a different nightclub.

No arrests have been made.

5 shot, 2 fatally, at Houston flea market
A fight between two groups of people led to a shooting Sunday that left two men dead and three others hurt at a busy Houston flea market, where thousands of people were shopping, authorities said.

The incident unfolded around 1 p.m. at the popular Sunny Flea Market held at the Tia Pancha Center in North Houston, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

All five people shot were involved in a fight and several are suspected of allegedly pulling guns and firing, sparking panic and causing innocent bystanders, including children, to run or dive for cover, the sheriff's office said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Suspect arrested in disappearance, murder of teen who went missing during spring break 2009

Georgetown County Sheriff's Office

(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) -- Investigators in South Carolina have made a significant break in the case of a teen who went missing in 2009 while vacationing for spring break.

A suspect in the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel, who disappeared in 2009 after traveling to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for spring break, has been arrested and charged with her murder after her remains were found in a wooded area in Georgetown County, South Carolina, last week, authorities announced at a news conference Monday.

"In the last week, we've confirmed that Brittanee lost her life in a tragic way, at the hands of a horrible criminal who was walking our streets," said FBI special agent in charge Susan Ferensic.

Drexel was last seen on the night of April 25, 2009, as she was leaving a friend's room at the Blue Water Resort to walk back to the hotel where she was staying -- about a mile-and-a-half walk down the busy Myrtle Beach strip, ABC Rochester station WHAM reported.

She was about halfway to her destination when she is presumed to have disappeared, investigators believe, based on surveillance footage from cameras on 11th Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.

The suspect, Raymond Moody, 62, allegedly buried Drexel's dead body, said Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver. Her remains were found less than 3 miles from a motel where Moody had been living at the time of Drexel's disappearance, Weaver said.

Moody is being held without bond at the Georgetown County jail and is expected to be charged with rape, murder and kidnapping -- in addition to a charge of obstruction of justice that he was initially brought in for, said Jimmy Richardson, solicitor for Horry and Georgetown Counties.

Authorities did not answer reporters' questions on how Drexel's remains were found or what in the investigation led them to believe Moody was a suspect. In 2012, he had been identified as a person of interest in the disappearance, but there was not enough evidence to name him as a suspect, officials said.

Investigators believe Drexel was held against her will and killed.

Drexel's parents, Dawn Pleckan and Chad Drexel, were in attendance at the press conference. There, they asked for privacy and thanked investigators and volunteers for their work over the past decade.

"This is truly a mother's worst nightmare," Pleckan said. "I am mourning my beautiful daughter Brittanee as I have been for 13 years. But today, it's bittersweet. We are much closer to the closure in the piece that we have been desperately hoping for."

Drexel would have been 30 years old on Monday, WHAM reported.

ABC News' Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Victims of deadly Houston flea market shooting were involved in gunfight: Officials

KTRK-TV

(HOUSTON) -- A fight between two groups of people led to a shooting Sunday that left two men dead and three others hurt at a busy Houston flea market, where thousands of people were shopping, authorities said.

The incident unfolded around 1 p.m. at the popular Sunny Flea Market held at the Tia Pancha Center in North Houston, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

All five people shot were involved in a fight and several are suspected of allegedly pulling guns and firing, sparking panic and causing innocent bystanders, including children, to run or dive for cover, the sheriff's office said.

Deputies responding to the call found two men dead at the scene and three others critically wounded.

"A busy Sunday at the flea market with thousands of patrons when this incident went down," the sheriff's office said in a statement. "For now, it appears the wounded were all likely participants in the altercation."

The sheriff's office emphasized that the shooting was "not a random act of violence."

"There is a lot of people ... just trying to come out and enjoy the flea market, have something to eat and something to drink, so it's very tragic," said Maj. Susan Cotter, of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

No innocent bystanders were injured, Cotter said.

Two pistols were recovered at the scene, officials said.

Two possible suspects were detained at the scene and a third possible suspect was among those critically injured and taken to a hospital, according to the sheriff's office.

The investigation is ongoing. One man who was uninjured was arrested for his alleged role in the shooting and charged with tampering with evidence, the sheriff's office said. He was identified by the sheriff's office as 27-year-old Angel Flores-Lopez.

Sheriff's office investigators are combing over video and interviewing witnesses in an effort to identify the shooters, and determine what prompted the fight and shooting.

Family members of one of the men killed identified him as Juan Romero, 29, according to Houston ABC station KTRK-TV.

Romero's sister, Yeraldi Romero, told KTRK that her brother went to the flea market to enjoy his Sunday, like any other weekend. She said her brother was with their cousin, who was one of those wounded and hospitalized.

"This tragedy happened and I don't know why," Yeraldi Romero said. "He always made everyone laugh, very happy, joyful, so it just really hurts because he's my older brother and I look up to him. It's very hard."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Relatives of Buffalo shooting victim break down in tears: 'This shouldn't have happened'

ABC News

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- The relatives of 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, the oldest victim slain in this weekend's mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, were overcome with emotion at a news conference on Monday.

Ruth Whitfield was a loving wife of 68 years, a devoted mother of four children and a beloved grandmother, her family said.

She was among the 10 people, all of whom were Black, who were gunned down in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Authorities are calling Saturday's massacre a "racially motivated hate crime."

Through tears and hugs, her family gathered on Monday to speak to reporters alongside attorneys including civil rights attorney Ben Crump. One family member broke down and sobbed multiple times during the news conference.

Ruth Whitfield went to visit her husband every day in the nursing home where he's lived for eight years, one of her sons, Garnell Whitfield, a former Buffalo fire chief, told reporters.

He said he doesn’t know how to tell his father that his primary caretaker is gone.

"There's nothing we can do that’s going to take away the hurt, take away these tears, take away the pain, take away the hole in our hearts. Because part of us is gone," he said. "For her to be taken from us and taken from this world by someone that's just full of hate for no reason … it is very hard for us to handle right now."

He went on, "What I loved most about my mom is how she loved us, how she loved our family unconditionally. How she sacrificed everything for us."

Daughter Robin Whitfield said, "My mom was my best friend. We went fishing together, we went camping together."

To the shooter, she said, "How dare you?"

Daughter Angela called her mother an "86-year-old powerhouse. She was beautiful, she was immaculate and she loved us."

Garnell Whitfield added: "We're not just hurting -- we're angry … this shouldn’t have happened. We do our best to be good citizens … we believe in God, we trust him, we treat people with decency and we love even our enemies."

He called out U.S. leaders for not protecting them and said he's speaking out in hopes of contributing to positive change.

"We need help. We're asking you to help us, help us change this. This can't keep happening," he said.

Garnell Whitfield told ABC News on Sunday that his mother went to the nursing home nearly every day. It was important to her to be "taking care of him, making sure he was well cared for by the staff, washing, ironing his clothes, making sure he was dressed appropriately, making sure his nails were cut and clean and shaved," he said.

Even as her own health began to weaken, Ruth Whitfield still tried to visit her husband each day, taking days off only when she felt too debilitated to make the trip, her son said.

After suffering "a very difficult childhood," Ruth Whitfield "was all about family" when she became a mother, Garnell Whitfield said.

"And she rose above it, and she raised us in spite of all of that, being very poor," he said. "She raised us to be productive men and women."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Black Buffalo residents stand united in wake of shooting

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- The city of Buffalo, New York, is grieving following a mass shooting at a Tops supermarket that left 10 people dead and another three wounded on Saturday.

Resident Myles Carter was just a few blocks from the scene that day, and the sounds of his neighbors crying out in agony over the news has been replaying in his head since the attack.

"It's a heart-wrenching sound," Carter told ABC News. "I heard that sound over and over and over again, for a long period of time."

The attack, which authorities are calling a racially motivated hate crime, left the predominantly Black community shaken, residents say, but they remain strong in their efforts to take care of and protect one another in the face of white supremacy.

"We just need to go ahead and make plans to take care of ourselves because it is clear that these elected officials aren't going to do it," said Shaimaa Aakil, a community advocate in Buffalo.

A 180-page document believed to have been written by alleged shooter Payton Gendron describes racist motives behind the shooting, including "replacement theory," a white supremacist belief that non-whites will eventually replace white people because they have higher birth rates.

In the document, he allegedly said he planned to attack the supermarket because it's located in a predominantly Black neighborhood. It's one of the only grocery stores available in the area, residents told ABC News.

In response, people working with community fridges, funds and food drives are stepping up to ensure that residents are cared for following an attack intended to erase them.

Residents say some non-Black community members are offering to get groceries for their Black neighbors, while some are stepping up as security for places of worship and community centers.

Taking care of each other is something Buffalo residents know how to do well, according to Herbert L. Bellamy Jr., a Buffalo native who lives down the road from Tops.

Bellamy, who also is president of Buffalo Black Achievers, said the neighborhood-grown efforts bring him comfort, knowing the community he knows and loves is taking care of itself.

"We're a close-knit community, so we're in touch with everyone," Bellamy said. "We've worked hard to develop that neighborhood. Things like this can be a huge setback for our community, with a food desert and people not being able to shop for food."

And though the community's resilience is shining in this moment, others say they are tired of having to be resilient. They say real change needs to come from this moment.

"We shouldn't be responding to this," said Carter, who is also a local social justice activist. "We've got to fix the problems so that we don't have to have a community response."

The attack not only signaled the country's radical alt-right movement, but also highlighted the way white supremacy has permeated the community's basic functions, Carter said.

Residents ABC News spoke with say the fact that there are limited places to buy affordable, healthy food in a predominantly Black part of a highly segregated city highlights longstanding issues of race.

"Don't let them make you believe that this is a one-time issue, an isolated event," Aakil said. "A lot of elected officials right now are going to imply that this is not a problem that's bred here, that he is from four hours away. But Buffalo has a really deep problem with segregation."

The tragedy has spurred a city-wide movement against racism as locals call on leaders and citizens alike to address white supremacy in communities and institutions across the country.

"You feel it even though you're not here," Carter said. "If white supremacy can do this in the heart of liberal Buffalo, New York -- we got a Black mayor. We have Black people on our common council. We've got Black people in our Erie County legislator."

If it can happen there, he said, "it can happen anywhere in America."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.