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President Joe Biden visited Buffalo Tuesday morning, where he privately met and grieved with relatives of the 10 people killed Saturday during a hate-fueled shooting rampage at a busy Buffalo supermarket in a predominately Black neighborhood.
The slain, who ranged in age from 32 to 86 years old, were either working or shopping at the Tops Friendly Markets store on Jefferson Avenue. Three others were injured but survived. Among those killed – a deacon, a civil rights advocate and the store's security guard, who was killed after exchanging gunfire with the shooter.
An 18-year-old man from Broome County was charged with first-degree murder and officials said they will weigh additional charges in the coming days.
Biden departs Buffalo
The presidential motorcade returned to the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport shortly before 1 p.m. and President Biden paused for a moment to speak with reporters, sharing many of the same thoughts and concerns he shared during his earlier speech at the Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo.
Among them, his message to the grieving families is that they "would be in pain for a long while," but better days will be ahead. He also said that he said he believes anyone who echoes or advocates replacement theory deserves some blame "not for this particular crime, but it serves no purpose, no purpose, except for profit and/or political benefit." He said it is "wrong, simply wrong."
The flight left Buffalo shortly after 1 p.m.
Biden speaks to gathered crowd
President Biden spoke for more than 15 minutes in front of a large crowd, among them the families of the victims of the mass shooting. He met privately with each of the families regarding the grief, pain and anger of losing a relative before the public event at the Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo.
He shared several words about each of the 10 victims, who they were, why they were in the store on Saturday and what they meant to Buffalo as well as their families.
“The day is going to come – it will come — as you remember him or her when it brings a smile to your lip before it brings a tear to your eye,” he said. “As a nation, we remember them and love them.”
To the victims’ families, he said, “hold on to each other tightly...stick together...we'll get through this...and we'll make Buffalo and the United States a better place to live than it is today.”
Biden also spoke about the hate, racism and gun violence that has become all too common in America.
"In America, evil will not win, I promise you," Biden said. "Hate will not prevail. White Supremacy will not have the last word."
But evil did come to Buffalo, he said, noting that what happened Saturday at the Jefferson Avenue grocery store was "terrorism" inspired by destructive and hateful beliefs.
The president condemned the gunman's "perverse ideology rooted in fear and racism" and called out those who have pushed the so-called "great replacement theory" – the false belief that white Americans are being "replaced" by minorities.
“I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain and for profit,” he said of replacement theory “White Supremacy is a poison. It’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes. No more.”
"From this tragedy will come hope and light and life,” Biden said. “It has to.”
Biden visits memorial near Tops store on Jefferson Avenue
President Biden and the first lady paused at the makeshift memorial for the shooting victims outside the Tops store, 1275 Jefferson Ave., shortly after 10 a.m.
The first lady added a bouquet of white flowers to the memorial. President Biden crossed himself as both stood silently in front of a tree, the base of which is now covered with flowers, candles and tributes to those who died Saturday.
Gov. Kathy Hochul and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, who are traveling in Buffalo with the President and first lady, also placed bouquets at the base of the tree.
Biden arrives at Buffalo airport
Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrived at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport around 9:35 a.m. The presidential motorcade left the tarmac minutes later and arrived at the Tops store on Jefferson Avenue around 10 a.m.
On Tuesday, the Bidens will first visit a memorial for the shooting victims before meeting with families, first responders and law enforcement officials at a community center.
Memorials outside the store include flowers, candles and messages written in chalk as the Jefferson Avenue store remained closed Monday. Tops officials have said the market will remain closed while police continue to investigate at the scene.
"He wants to go there and comfort the people who went through this violence," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Once on the ground the President and First Lady meet Gov. Kathy Hochul and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown pic.twitter.com/DDUytOj2V9
— Tina MacIntyre-Yee 🌊 (@tyee23) May 17, 2022
What Biden is expected to say in Buffalo
During remarks, Biden will call the shooting "terrorism motivated by a hateful and perverse ideology that tears at the soul of our nation," according to a White House official, and call on Americans to "give hate no safe harbor." He will also "reject the lies of racial animus that radicalize, divide us, and led to the act of racist violence we saw on Saturday," the official said.
In remarks on Sunday, Biden noted that the Justice Department is investigating the shooting as a hate crime and a "racially motivated act of white supremacy and violent extremism."
"We must all work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America," Biden said. "Our hearts are heavy once again, but our resolve must never, ever waver."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, are expected to join Biden in Buffalo, according to their offices. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown also greeted the president and first lady.
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Biden in Buffalo: Live updates on visit to shooting victims' families