The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday (June 15) charged accused Buffalo mass shooter Payton Gendron, 18, who killed 10 Black people in May, with 26 hate-crime counts and a firearm offense, The Washington Post reports. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.
Federal charges were announced two weeks after a state grand jury indicted Gendron on a state domestic terrorism and hate-crime charge that would carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison. New York has no death penalty.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland traveled to Buffalo Wednesday (June 15) to meet privately with survivors of the attack and family members of the slain to update them on the federal investigation.
According to the Buffalo Police Department, Gendron entered the Tops Friendly Markets store on May 14 with a military-style assault rifle and opened fire.
Gendron, a Conklin, N.Y. resident, allegedly researched the local demographics and chose that supermarket to kill as many Black people as possible. In total, he shot 11 Black people and two whites who survived the attack.
Gendron allegedly espoused the “Great Replacement” theory, which is the false belief that a secret political group is working to replace white Americans with non-white people through interracial marriage, immigration, and inevitable violence.
According to the criminal complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, federal prosecutors allege that his motive was to “prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks,” local station WIVB reports.
Gendron fired approximately 60 shots, the complaint said. After killing a Black victim, he aimed his weapon at a white male supermarket employee (identified in the document as “victim 8”) who had been shot in the leg during his shooting rampage.
But instead of shooting the white Tops worker, “Gendron said, ‘Sorry,’ to Victim 8, before moving on through the rest of the store in search of more Black people to shoot and kill,” WIVB quotes the complaint.
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