The man accused of opening fire inside a Buffalo, New York, supermarket, killing 10 in his targeted hunt for Black victims, was charged with hate crimes Thursday.
Payton Gendron, 19, was hit with a 27-count indictment, including 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill three injured individuals and 13 counts of using, carrying or discharging a firearm in relation to a hate crime.
“Gendron committed the offense after substantial planning and premeditation to commit an act of terrorism,” reads the announcement from the Department of Justice.
Gendron faces the death penalty or life in prison. Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder asked federal prosecutors last months to decide within 30 days whether they plan to seek the death penalty.
“Today, a grand jury has indicted Payton Gendron with hate crime and firearms offenses following the horrific attack on the Black community of Buffalo that killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14, 2022,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
“The Justice Department fully recognizes the threat that white supremacist violence poses to the safety of the American people and American democracy. We will continue to be relentless in our efforts to combat hate crimes, to support the communities terrorized by them, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them.”
Gendron is currently being held without bail on state charges including 10 counts of first-degree murder and domestic terrorism.
On May 14, Gendron allegedly drove more than three hours from his hometown of Conklin, New York, to the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo and opened fire with a Bushmaster XM rifle, according to prosecutors. Of the 13 victims, 11 were Black, including all 10 fatalities.
Online posts tied to Gendron are littered with racist writing and crude descriptions of violence, including a 180-page manifesto in which he allegedly wrote that he targeted Buffalo because it had the “highest Black percentage that is close enough to where I live.”
He also allegedly had the N-word painted on the barrel of his modified assault weapon.
“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,” federal investigators wrote in a criminal complaint.
Kate Feldman, New York Daily News