Alleged mass shooter Payton S. Gendron faces multiple federal hate crime charges in the killing of 10 people last month in a racist attack at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, the US Justice Department announced Wednesday.
The federal charges, which carry the potential for the death penalty, also include firearms violations. They come on top of counts of domestic terrorism motivated by hate and first-degree murder that he already faces from New York prosecutors, for which he has pleaded not guilty.
Gendron is accused of shooting 13 people, ages 20 to 86, at the Tops Friendly Market on May 14. Eleven were black and two were white, Buffalo police said.
A criminal complaint filed by prosecutors in the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York stated that, “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.” The complaint detailed extensive plans Gendron allegedly made for the assault.
The charges came as Attorney General Merrick Garland visited the site of the massacre and met with the families of the victims.
“In the days and weeks since the attack, we have all witnessed the strength of this community’s bonds, its resilience and its love. I am humbled to have just felt that firsthand in my discussions with the families,” Garland said in remarks Wednesday.
“At the Justice Department, we view confronting hate crimes as both our legal and our moral obligation. The Justice Department was founded more than 150 years ago with the first principal task of protecting Black Americans ― and our democracy ― from white supremacist violence. Today, we approach that task with the same degree of urgency as we did then.”
Garland, who has put a temporary hold on federal executions while the department reviews policies and procedures, would have to make a decision on whether to seek the death penalty.
Asked whether federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty in this case, Garland said, “The Justice Department has a series of procedures it follows … The families and the survivors would be consulted.”
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: 10NEWS.COM
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