A federal grand jury has indicted suspected Buffalo grocery store gunman Payton Gendron on 27 firearm and hate crime counts, the Justice Department said Thursday, which he’ll face in addition to New York state murder charges for the attack that killed 10 and injured three.
The 19-year-old faces 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in deaths; three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill three injured individuals; one hate crime count for allegedly seeking to kill other Black people in and near the store; and 13 counts of using, carrying, or discharging a firearm in relation to hate crimes, charges that could carry a life sentence or the death penalty, though the department said the attorney general will decide later whether to seek the death penalty.
The DOJ said the hate crime charges stemmed from the fact Gendron allegedly targeted the victims because they were black, and the attack included “substantial planning and premeditation.”
Gendron also faces 10 state charges of first-degree murder and 10 state charges of second-degree murder.
The Justice Department “fully recognizes” the threat white supremacist violence poses to American people and democracy and will be “relentless” in its efforts to hold those accountable who perpetuate hate crimes, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement announcing the charges.
The charges come as the Tops Friendly Market location where the massacre occurred is set to reopen Friday after a renovation. The store planned to hold a “moment of silence and prayer” on Thursday to pay respect to the victims and community members.
On May 14, authorities allege Gendron drove more than three hours to the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, NY, where he shot 13 people and killed 10—all of whom were Black. Gendron—who livestreamed the shooting from a helmet camera—posted a 180-page racist diatribe online in which he wrote about how he viewed Black people as "replacers" of whites. Social media posts shared by Gendron suggest he had been planning the attack for months. The grand jury indictment comes a month after Gendron was charged with multiple federal hate crimes filed by prosecutors in a criminal complaint in which authorities allege Gendron's motive was to "prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race" and to motivate others to commit similar attacks. In May, a state grand jury indicted Gendron on 25 counts, including one count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate and 10 first-degree murder counts.
Alleged Buffalo Shooter Indicted For Domestic Terrorism (Forbes)
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