Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old white supremacist charged with killing 10 people in upstate New York last month, left a handwritten note to his parents apologizing but stating that he “had to commit this attack” because he cared “for the future of the White race,” federal prosecutors revealed on Wednesday.
FBI agents discovered the chilling note in Gendron’s bedroom in Conklin, New York after he opened fire at Black shoppers at a Tops Friendly Market on May 14 and shot 13 people. According to a new criminal complaint, authorities also found a receipt that showed Gendron bought a candybar at the Buffalo supermarket on March 8 and “handwritten sketches of what appear to be interior layout of the Tops.”
Gendron, who already faces several murder charges, was hit on Wednesday with 26 counts of hate crimes and firearms offenses for the racially motivated attack. The Department of Justice said he will face the death penalty if convicted.
“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 complaint said.
Authorities say that Gendron traveled more than three hours from his home to the supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo. There, he fatally shot Roberta A. Drury, 32; Margus Morrison, 52; Andre Mackneil, 53; Aaron Salter, 55; Geraldine Talley, 62; Celestine Chaney, 65; Heyward Patterson, 67; Katherine Massey, 72; Pearl Young, 77; and Ruth Whitfield, 86. Zaire Goodman, 20, Jennifer Warrington, 50, and Christopher Braden were injured in the attack.
The complaint states that after the attack, in which Gendron fired about 60 shots, he returned to the front of the store and was met by Buffalo Police Department members who took him into custody.
“At that time, officers recovered the rifle used in the attack from Gendron. The rifle had various writings on it, including, but not limited to, the names of others who have committed mass shootings, racial slurs, the statement ‘Here’s your reparations!,’ and the phrase ‘The Great Replacement,’” the complaint states. “Law enforcement later determined that Gendron live-streamed part of the attack on the Internet.”
The complaint also went into detail about the lengths Gendron went to in planning the massacre, noting that he wrote a self-described manifesto, detailed what clothes he was going to wear, had diagrams of the store, and stated his intention was to “prevent Black people from replacing white race.”
In the manifesto, the teenager also drafted a “goodbye letter” that authorities believe he later wrote up separately and left in his bedroom.
Prosecutors said they believe Gendron went to Tops three times prior to the attack to “scout the location.” He made sketches of the interior, “counted the number of Black people present inside and outside the store, observed the presence of two armed Black security guards, and noted the number of Black people in the area of the cash registers.”
Two hours before the shooting, the complaint states, he again went to Tops one last time to count the number of Black individuals there. Prosecutors notably revealed that Gendron methodically shot Black people and did not kill a white employee who had been hit in the leg by a bullet.
“Rather than shooting him, Gendron said, ‘sorry’...before moving on through the rest of the store in search of more Black people to shoot and kill,” the complaint said.