Buffalo Shooter Charged with Federal Hate Crimes, May Face Death Penalty - Rolling Stone
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Buffalo Shooter Charged with Federal Hate Crimes, May Face Death Penalty

“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,” read the criminal complaint

Alleged Buffalo Shooter Indicted on Charges for Supermarket KillingsAlleged Buffalo Shooter Indicted on Charges for Supermarket Killings

Payton Gendron is led into the courtroom for a hearing at Erie County Court, in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, May 19, 2022. Gendron faces charges in the May 14, fatal shooting at a supermarket.

Matt Rourke/AP

Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old gunman who killed 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, has been charged with federal hate crimes, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Gendron is charged with 10 counts of hate crime resulting in death, 3 counts of hate crime involving bodily injury and attempt to kill, 10 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence, and 3 counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence.

“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,” read the criminal complaint.

Gendron was initially indicted on 25 counts of murder, domestic terrorism, and other charges in mid-May, according to the New York Times. He was already facing a mandatory life sentence without parole for his previous state charges, but will now face the federal hate crimes charges based on the alleged racist motive in his attack

The federal hate crimes charges announcement come as Attorney General Merrick Garland visited and spoke to the families of the victims in Buffalo.

“No one in this country should have to live in fear that they will go to work or shop at a grocery store and will be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin,” Garland said at a news conference, according to the Associated Press.

His previous lengthy indictment included both first and second-degree murder charges as hate crimes, as well as three counts of attempted murder and single counts of gun and domestic terrorism charges. Gendron pleaded not guilty.

Last month, Gendron was also indicted by a grand jury on charges connected to the shooting after he appeared in court, the Washington Post reported

According to authorities, Gendron — who is believed to be a white supremacist — targeted the Tops supermarket in the predominantly Black neighborhood. Authorities claim the killings were racially motivated due to Gendron’s alleged beliefs in a “great replacement theory” — a baseless conspiracy theory touted by right-wing media and the far-right fringes that white people are facing extinction and are being “replaced” by immigrants and people of color.

At an initial hearing, which was attended by some of the victims’ families, prosecutor Gary Hackbush informed Buffalo City Court Chief Judge Craig D. Hannah that an Erie County grand jury had voted for an indictment against Gendron the day before. The charges have not been made public. Gendron remains in custody and is being held without bail.

During the hearing, a person in the courtroom yelled, “Payton, you are a coward,” at the suspect as he was being taken to a holding area, according to the Washington Post.

Authorities said Gendron had traveled more than 200 miles from Conklin, New York, to the Tops Supermarket with a rifle, opened fire, and killed 10 people. He had allegedly published a 180-page manifesto where he pushes the great replacement theory. The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating whether to charge Gendron with a hate crime. The killings marked the 198th mass shooting in the United States and the deadliest one to date of 2022.

This story was updated at 12:25 p.m. on June 15 to include hate crime charges.

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