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Gunman kills 10 in live-streamed racial attack on New York state supermarket

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6/6

© Reuters. Police officers secure the scene after a shooting at TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, New York, U.S. May 14, 2022. REUTERS/Jeffrey T. Barnes REFILE – CORRECTING DATE

2/6

By Jenna Zucker, Steve Gorman and Moira Warburton

BUFFALO, N.Y. (Reuters) -An 18-year-old white gunman shot 10 people to death and wounded three on Saturday at a grocery store in a Black neighborhood of upstate New York, before surrendering after what authorities called an act of “racially motivated violent extremism.”

Authorities said the suspect, who was armed with an assault-style rifle and appeared to have acted alone, drove to Buffalo from his home several hours away to launch the afternoon attack that he broadcast in real time on social media platform Twitch, a live video service owned by Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN).

Eleven of the 13 people struck by gunfire were Black, officials said. The two others were white. The racial breakdown of the dead was not made clear.

Court papers named the suspect as Payton Gendron of Conklin, a town of about 5,000 people in New York’s Southern Tier region near the Pennsylvania border.

He was arraigned hours after the shooting in state court on first-degree murder charges, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole, said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. New York has no capital punishment.

Flynn said the judge also ordered Gendron to remain in custody without bail and to undergo a “forensic examination.” Gendron was scheduled to return to court on May 19.

SURRENDERED TO POLICE

Authorities said the teenager, reported by local media to have been a student at the State University of New York’s Broome Community College near Binghamton, had come close to taking his own life before he was arrested.

When confronted by officers at the store, the suspect held a gun to his own neck, but they talked him into dropping the weapon and surrendering, Buffalo police commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news briefing.

Gramaglia said the gunman shot and killed three people in the parking lot of the Tops Friendly Markets outlet before exchanging fire with a retired police officer working as a security guard for the store, but the suspect was protected by his body armor.

The guard was one of the 10 people shot to death, the nine others all being customers. Three other employees of the store, part of a regional chain, were wounded but are expected to survive, authorities said.

Shonnell Harris, a manager at Tops, told the Buffalo News she thought she heard as many as 70 gunshots and that she fell several times as she ran through the store to a rear exit.

“He looked like he was in the army,” she told the newspaper, describing the camouflage-clad assailant.

Retired firefighter Katherine Crofton, who lives nearby, said she witnessed the start of the bloodshed from her porch.

“I saw him shoot this woman,” Crofton told the paper. “She was just going into the store. And then he shot another woman. She was putting groceries into her car. I got down because I did not know if he was going to shoot me.”

‘PURE EVIL’

Stephen Belongia, the FBI special agent in charge of the bureau’s Buffalo field office, said the attack would be investigated both as a hate crime and as an act of “racially motivated violent extremism” under federal law.

“This person was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said at a news conference, his voice quaking with emotion. “It was a straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community.”

U.S. President Biden decried the shooting as “abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation” in a statement issued late Saturday. “Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul told a late-evening news conference she was dismayed that the killer managed to live-stream his attack on social media, which she blamed for hosting a “feeding frenzy” of violent extremist ideology.

“The fact that that can even be posted on a platform is absolutely shocking,” Hochul said. “These outlets must be more vigilant in monitoring social media content.”

Twitch said in a statement that it removed the livestream less than two minutes after it started and was working to ensure no other accounts re-posted the content. Hochul said it should have been taken down “within a second.”

Screenshots of the broadcast were posted on social media, including some that appeared to show the shooter holding a gun and standing over a body in the grocery store.

A document circulating online that appeared to have been written by the killer sketched out a to-do list for the attack, including cleaning the gun and testing the livestream.

In addition, a 180-page manifesto outlining ‘The Great Replacement Theory’ – the idea that white people are being replaced by minorities in the United States and other countries – also circulated online, reportedly authored by Gendron.

A spokesperson for Flynn’s office declined to comment on the documents. The FBI could not immediately be reached for comment.

The governor also said she would introduce a previously planned “comprehensive” gun control package on Tuesday to “address further loopholes that exist in our (state) laws.”

Hochul said the firearm used in the killings was legally purchased but had been illegally modified with a high-capacity magazine, which she said could easily have been purchased legally in Pennsylvania.

The Buffalo shooting follows a pattern of other racially motivated mass murders in recent years, including a Pittsburgh synagogue attack that left 11 congregants dead in October 2018, and the Atlanta spa shootings in March 2021 in which a white man killed eight people, targeting Asians.

Saturday’s shooting spree was also reminiscent of the attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019, when the killer live-streamed the murders on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB).

Buffalo Mayor Bryon Brown called for unity on what he called a “day of great pain for our community.”

“Many of us have been in and out of this supermarket many times,” he told reporters. “We cannot let this hateful person divide our community or our country.”

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More work to resume in Shanghai’s zero-COVID areas from June

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© Reuters. Women carry boxes of food on a street during lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Shanghai, China, May 18, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song

2/2

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -The COVID-19-hit financial hub of Shanghai will start to allow more businesses in zero-COVID areas to resume normal operations from the beginning of June, a deputy mayor said on Thursday as the city looks forward to the end of lockdown.

Shanghai, fighting China’s biggest ever coronavirus outbreak, has been steadily allowing more businesses to reopen and letting larger numbers of residents leave their homes for the first time in nearly seven weeks.

The city was “striving to achieve a full resumption of work and production as soon as possible”, deputy mayor Zhang Wei told a media briefing.

“The rhythm of work resumption” would be based on the epidemic prevention situation, he said, adding that for the rest of May, many workers would remain in “closed loops”, which often involves staff living at their work places.

Shanghai’s stable energy, water and information infrastructure throughout the outbreak “guarantees that the city’s pulse has the strength to beat after the slowdown, and also supports the continuous recovery of the city’s economy”, he said.

After nearly two months of disruptions, cargo deliveries were gradually returning to normal, Zhang said, with daily container throughput at Shanghai’s ports now at about 90% of levels a year ago.

Pudong Airport cargo throughput had reached 70% of last year’s levels, while freight vehicles entering and leaving the city was back to two thirds.

Yu Fulin, an official with Shanghai’s transportation commission, told the briefing the city would start to restore main cross-district public transport on May 22. The priority would be reopening routes connecting the city’s airports, railway stations and hospitals, he said.

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U.S. Senate confirms Biden nominee to be Ukraine ambassador

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bridget Brink, nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testifies at her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved veteran diplomat Bridget Brink on Wednesday to be ambassador to Ukraine, filling a critical post that has been vacant for three years as Washington works to increase support for the government in Kyiv.

Brink was approved by unanimous voice vote.

Both President Joe Biden’s fellow Democrats and Republicans had urged Brink’s quick confirmation. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Brink unanimously earlier on Wednesday, after holding her confirmation hearing just two weeks after Biden announced the nomination on April 25.

The quick action underscored the desire from both parties to send an ambassador to support Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as he faces Russia’s invasion. Brink’s Senate confirmation came on the same day that the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv reopened after a three-month closure due to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

The Senate also is expected later this week to approve nearly $40 billion in military and humanitarian support for Kyiv, funding that has already passed the House of Representatives.

A Michigan native who speaks Russian, Brink is currently U.S. ambassador to Slovakia. A diplomat for 25 years, she has worked in Uzbekistan and Georgia as well as in several senior positions across the State Department and White House National Security Council.

Brink was also confirmed by unanimous voice vote in 2019, when former Republican President Donald Trump nominated her for the position in Bratislava.

There has not been a U.S. ambassador in Kyiv since May 2019, when Trump abruptly recalled then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Yovanovitch later testified as Trump faced impeachment on charges of withholding military aid to put pressure on Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, then seen as Trump’s most likely opponent in the 2020 election.

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N.Korea boosts production of drugs, medical supplies to battle COVID

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2/2

© Reuters. Members of the North Korean army supply medicines to residents at a pharmacy, amid growing fears over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo on May 18, 2022. Kyodo/via REUTERS

2/2

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea is ramping up production of drugs and medical supplies including sterilisers and thermometers as it battles an unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, state media KCNA said on Thursday.

The isolated country, which has imposed a nationwide lockdown, is also increasing production of traditional Korean medicines used to reduce fever and pain, KCNA said, calling them “effective in prevention and cure of the malicious disease.”

A sweeping COVID wave, which North Korea first confirmed last week, has fanned concerns over a lack of medical resources and vaccines, with the U.N. human rights agency warning of “devastating” consequences for its 25 million people.

At least 262,270 more people reported fever symptoms, and one additional person died as of Wednesday evening, KCNA said, citing data from the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters. It did not specify how many people had tested positive for the virus.

North Korea has so far reported 1,978,230 people with fever symptoms and 63 deaths, and imposed strict anti-virus measures.

Factories are churning out more injections, medicines, thermometers and other medical supplies in the capital Pyongyang and nearby regions “in a lightning way,” while more isolation wards were installed and disinfection work intensified around the country, KCNA said.

“Thousands of tons of salt were urgently transported to Pyongyang City to produce antiseptic solution,” KCNA said.

The reports came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un criticised ineffective distribution of drugs and slammed officials for their “immature” responses to the epidemic.

Without a national vaccination campaign and COVID treatment, state media have encouraged patients to use painkillers and antibiotics as well as unverified home remedies, such as gargling salt water, or drinking lonicera japonica tea or willow leaf tea.

South Korea and the United States have respectively offered to help North Korea fight the outbreak, including sending aid, but have not received a response, Seoul’s deputy national security advisor said on Wednesday.

However, three aircraft from North Korea’s Air Koryo arrived in China and returned to Pyongyang on Monday carrying medical supplies, a diplomatic source said on condition of anonymity.

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