(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — The white gunman accused of killing 10 Black people in a racist attack at a Buffalo supermarket has been charged with federal hate crimes and could face the death penalty, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.
Payton Gendron already faces a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a conviction on state charges from the May 14th rampage.
The federal charges were to be addressed by Attorney General Merrick Grland during his Wednesday visit to Buffalo. The attorney general was expected to speak with the relatives of the 10 Black men who were killed.
The attack, at Tops Friendly Market, also left three survivors — one Black, two white.
Gendron’s radical, racist worldview and extensive preparation for the attack were laid out in documents he apparently authored and posted online shortly before authorities say he started shooting.
FBI agents executing a search warrant at Gendron’s home the day after the shooting found a note in which he apologized to his family for the shooting and stated that he “had to commit this attack” because he cares “for the future of the White race,” according to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint.
The affidavit stated that Gendron had signed and addressed the note to his family.
Agents at the Conklin, New York home also found a receipt for a candy bar purchased from the supermarket on March 8, the day Gendron said in an online diary he went to scout out the store, as well as hand drawn sketches of the store’s layout, the affidavit said.
The affidavit also includes detailed accounts of Gendron’s plot to attack the store, which he documented in detail in an online diary, and the attack itself, which he live streamed on social media.
In his writings, Gendron embraced a baseless conspiracy theory about a plot to diminish white Americans’ power and “replace” them with people of color, through immigration and other means.
The posts detail months of reconnaissance, demographic research and shooting practice for a bloodbath aimed at scaring everyone who isn’t white and Christian into leaving the country.
Gendron traveled more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) to get from his Buffalo home, an almost all-white community near the New York/Pennsylvania border, to reach a predominantly Black area of Buffalo. According to authorities, Gendron killed shoppers and workers with an AR-15-style rifle. He was wearing body armor as protection and streaming the violence from his helmet-mounted camera.
After he left the supermarket with his 18-year-old brother, he surrendered himself to police.
He pleaded guilty to the state domestic terrorist charge. This includes hate-motivated domestic terror and murder.
Gendron’s online records claim that Gendron had gone to the supermarket and drawn maps to help him count the Black people who he encountered.
According to federal authorities, they had indicated that hate crime allegations were being considered in relation to these killings. This only added to gun violence’s unabating pace in the United States.
Ten days later, an 18-year-old man with a semiautomatic rifle shot at Uvalde Elementary School in Texas. He killed 19 children and injured two others.
Soon after, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed 10 public safety-related bills, including one prohibiting New Yorkers under age 21 from buying semi-automatic rifles and another that revised the state’s “red flag” law, which allows courts to temporarily take away guns from people who might be a threat to themselves or others.
On June 12, the U.S. Senate agreed to more moderate federal gun restrictions and increased efforts for school safety and mental healthcare programs.
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