Suspect in Racist Mass Shooting at Buffalo Grocery Store Faces Federal Hate Crime Charges | CNN



Alleged mass shooter Payton S. Gendron faces multiple federal hate crime charges with the possibility of the death penalty for the murder of 10 black people last month at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday.

The charges against the white suspect came when Attorney General Merrick Garland visited the massacre site and met the families of the victims.

“No one in this country should live in fear that they will go to work or go shopping in a supermarket and be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin,” Garland said after meeting with relatives.

A lawsuit filed by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York stated that, “Gendron’s motive for the mass shooting was to prevent black people from replacing whites and eliminate the white race, and to inspire others.” to commit similar murders.” attacks.” The complaint contains elaborate plans Gendron allegedly made for the attack.

Gendron is accused of shooting 13 people, ages 20 to 86, at the Tops Friendly Market on May 14. Eleven were black and two were white, the Buffalo police said.

The 18-year-old suspect is charged with 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, three counts of hate crimes involving personal injury, 10 counts of using a firearm to commit murder during and in connection with a violent crime, and three counts of the use and discharge of a firearm during a violent crime, according to an indictment.

The last three counts carry the potential of the death penalty.

Garland, who has temporarily halted federal executions while the department reviews policies and procedures, should make a decision on whether or not to demand the death penalty.

Asked whether federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty in this case, Garland said, “The Justice Department has a series of proceedings it is following … The families and survivors would be consulted.”

CNN has reached out to attorneys for Gendron for comment.

Gendron is expected to appear in federal court in Buffalo on Thursday for a first appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr.

Garland, associate attorney general Vanita Gupta and assistant attorney general for civil rights Kristen Clarke visited the memorial next to the grocery store for about 10 minutes on Wednesday. Garland placed 10 roses on the spot, one for each person killed.

“In the days and weeks since the attack, we’ve all witnessed the strength of this community’s ties, its resilience and its love,” Garland told reporters. “I am humbled that I have just felt that first hand in my conversations with the families. Hate fueled acts of violence terrorize not just the individuals being attacked, but entire communities. Hate brings immediate destruction and creates lasting fear.”

During a search of the shooter’s home, federal authorities found a laptop containing a document detailing the plan of the attack that he had allegedly been planning for years. The document said he “got really serious” about the January attack, according to the indictment.

In the document, Gendron reportedly referred to himself as a white man “who sought to protect and serve my community, my people, my culture and my race” and said he was never diagnosed with a mental disability or impairment. He is said to have stated that his goal was to “kill as many blacks as possible” and “prevent death”.

In a handwritten note found by officers in his bedroom, Gendron apologized to his family for committing “this attack” and said he did it because he “cared about the future of the white race,” according to the complaint. . Officers also found a receipt in his bedroom for a candy bar purchased from Tops on March 8, along with clear sketches of the store’s layout.

Authorities believe he visited the store several times, including the day before the attack and again, two and a half hours before he reportedly started shooting. The indictment said he “counted the number of black people in and out of the store”.

Hours before the shooting, the complaint said Gendron observed “a “healthy amount of old and young” black people in the store.”

During the rampage, Gendron aimed a Bushmaster XM-15 shotgun at a white grocery store employee who had already been shot in the leg, the indictment said. Rather than shoot him, Gendron said “sorry” to that victim “before going around the rest of the store looking for more black people to shoot and kill,” the indictment said.

The complaint described how several customers and employees ” took shelter in a pantry, conference room, freezer and dairy cooler” while others fled through a back door.

According to the indictment, the gunman fired about 60 shots during the attack.

On June 1, a grand jury in New York overturned a 25-point indictment against Gendron. He is facing 10 counts of first degree murder, 10 counts of first degree murder as a hate crime and three counts of attempted murder as a hate crime, according to court documents. Gendron is also charged with domestic terror and weapons possession, according to court documents. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The suspect arrived at the supermarket on the afternoon of May 14, heavily armed and dressed in tactical gear, including a tactical helmet and gold-plated armor, police said. He also had a camera that streamed his actions live.

Using an assault weapon, the gunman shot four people outside the supermarket, killing three, authorities said.

When he entered the store, he exchanged fire with an armed guard, who authorities said was a retired Buffalo police officer. The guard died of his injuries. The suspect shot eight more people in the store, six of whom died.

The complaint said the rifle used in the attack contained writings, including racist remarks and the phrase “The Great Replacement.”

Gendron wrote that he chose the Buffalo zip code with the highest percentage of blacks closest to where he lived — and a store with a high number of blacks, according to the complaint.

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