Buffalo Shooter Pleads Guilty to State Charges in Racist Attack

Buffalo Supermarket Shooting - Credit: Matt Rourke/AP
Buffalo Supermarket Shooting - Credit: Matt Rourke/AP

Payton Gendron, the now-19-year-old gunman who has been accused of killing 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo in May has pleaded guilty to all 25 state charges against him in an Erie Country court on Monday, Nov. 28, The New York Times reports.

Gendron was indicted by a grand jury in June on 25 counts of murder, domestic terrorism, and other charges. The charges included 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime and a single count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate. He is facing a mandatory life sentence without parole on the latter charge.

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Gendron also faces additional federal hate crimes charges based on the alleged racist motive in his attack. In the federal case, he is charged with 10 counts of hate crime resulting in death, 3 counts of hate crime involving bodily injury and attempt to kill, 10 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence, and 3 counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence.

“Gendron’s motive for the mass shooting was to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race and to inspire others to commit similar attacks,” the federal criminal complaint states.

The federal hate crimes charges announcement in June came as Attorney General Merrick Garland visited and spoke to the families of the victims in Buffalo.

“No one in this country should have to live in fear that they will go to work or shop at a grocery store and will be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin,” Garland said at a news conference, according to the Associated Press.

His previous lengthy indictment included both first and second-degree murder charges as hate crimes, as well as three counts of attempted murder and single counts of gun and domestic terrorism charges. Gendron pleaded not guilty.

According to authorities, Gendron — who is believed to be a white supremacist — targeted the Tops supermarket in the predominantly Black neighborhood. Authorities claim the killings were racially motivated due to Gendron’s alleged beliefs in a “great replacement theory” — a baseless conspiracy theory touted by right-wing media and the far-right fringes that white people are facing extinction and are being “replaced” by immigrants and people of color.

At an initial hearing, which was attended by some of the victims’ families, prosecutor Gary Hackbush informed Buffalo City Court Chief Judge Craig D. Hannah that an Erie County grand jury had voted for an indictment against Gendron the day before. The charges have not been made public. Gendron remains in custody and is being held without bail.

During the hearing, a person in the courtroom yelled, “Payton, you are a coward,” at the suspect as he was being taken to a holding area, according to the Washington Post.

Authorities said Gendron had traveled more than 200 miles from Conklin, New York, to the Tops Supermarket with a rifle, opened fire, and killed 10 people. He had allegedly published a 180-page manifesto where he pushes the great replacement theory. The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating whether to charge Gendron with a hate crime. The killings marked the 198th mass shooting in the United States and the deadliest one to date of 2022.

This story was updated on Nov. 28 to include Gendron’s guilty plea on state charges. It was also updated at 12:25 p.m. on June 15 to include hate crime charges.

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