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'It is domestic terrorism' Broome County DA clarifies comments on mass shooting in Buffalo

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Posted at 5:54 PM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 19:28:33-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Broome County District Attorney Michael Korchak held a press conference Wednesday to discuss the mental evaluation the suspect in the mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue underwent last June.

During the press conference, a reporter asked Korchak if he believes the mass shooting in Buffalo on May 14th was an act of domestic terrorism.

"I'm from downstate, terrorism is flying planes into buildings. This is just murder as far as I'm concerned," Kochak responded on Wednesday. "It is terrorism, because you're terrorizing the community and it was racially motivated, we believe at this point in time. But from the DA's perspective, crime is crime."

Korchak sat down with 7 News Reporter Olivia Proia to have a one-on-one discussion about the mass shooting on Jefferson Avenue. He took some time to explain why he stated "this is just murder."

"I just want to set the record straight, I'm not saying it wasn't a terroristic act," Korchak said, "It's a heinous racially motivated mass murder. The fact that I didn't say domestic terrorism... I mean it is domestic terrorism. But under the penal law, you have to prove less elements to prove the charge of murder in the first degree."

"So I guess what you're saying is in order to be charged with a hate crime under state law there's more evidence needed, and if that's not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, there's a greater chance that he can walk than with first degree murder?" 7 News Reporter Olivia Proia asked.

"Right. Terrorism motivated by hate you have to prove his motivation. Now, do I think based on what I've heard that would be difficult to do? Probably not, if this writing is attributed to him. However, in the murder in the first degree charge you just have to prove the potential murder of more than one person. That's obviously clear by what happened. You don't have to prove his motivation for it, and the sentences are identical," Korchak said.

Korchak said there was not enough evidence for Red Flag Laws to prevent the suspect from buying a gun.

"I have to follow the law, as a district attorney, whether I agree with it or not. The red flag law indicates that we have to show to a court there has to be an extreme. It's an extreme risk protective order. We have to show that he is an immediate risk to himself or others," Korchak said.

"So basically by the mental health workers saying he's no risk, your hands are tied in this situation?" 7 News Reporter Olivia Proia asked.

"It was in this particular case because we have to present evidence to a judge that he is an imminent risk," Korchak said.

Korchak could not disclose if any charges related to the mass shooting in Buffalo will come from his office.