The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday filed federal hate crime charges against the accused Buffalo supermarket shooter.
The DOJ filed a criminal complaint in the Western District of New York, charging 18-year-old Payton Gendron with 26 counts, including 10 counts of a hate crime resulting in death.
The alleged gunman from Conklin, N.Y., is accused of opening fire at Tops Market in Buffalo on May 14, killing 10 and injuring three others in a racially-motivated attack.
Gendron has pleaded not guilty to a 25-count indictment, which includes first-degree murder charges, that a New York grand jury returned earlier this month.
The DOJ criminal complaint also includes three counts of a hate crime involving bodily injury to kill, 10 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and another three counts of using and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.
In an affidavit included with the criminal complaint, an FBI agent said Gendron arrived at Tops with a tactical helmet, camouflage clothing and body armor. He was carrying a Bushmaster XM-15 .223 caliber rifle, which he used to open fire outside and inside the grocery market while he livestreamed the event with a GoPro camera.
The FBI said the Bushmaster rifle had writings on it, including the names of previous mass shooters and the phrases, “Here’s your reparations!” and “The Great Replacement,” which refers to a conspiracy theory that immigrants and minorities are being brought to the country to replace white people for political gain. Gendron had previously written a manifesto that espoused the same idea.
According to the affidavit, the FBI also searched the gunman’s home and found a layout of Tops Market. They also found a handwritten note in which Gendron apologized to his family for the attack but said he had to carry it out “for the future of the White race.”
Gendron plotted out his plans for the May 14 attack for weeks. He also shared what he was going to do on the filesharing platform MediaFire and social media platform Discord.
The 589-page document on MediaFire outlined details of the shooting, including how many people he would be able to kill. The document is based on a trip the 18-year-old took to Buffalo, allegedly to scope out how he would orchestrate the shooting.
The shooting took place about two weeks before another gunman opened fire inside an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school, killing 19 children and two adults. Both led to renewed cries for stricter gun control laws.
A bipartisan group of senators announced they had reached a deal over the weekend that would invest billions into children and mental health services, fund new safety measures at schools and strengthen background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21.
–Updated at 12:05 p.m.