BUFFALO, N.Y. (TCD) — A 19-year-old will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing 10 people — all of whom were Black — and injuring several others during a livestreamed shooting at a supermarket in May 2022.
A judge sentenced Payton Gendron to life in prison without parole Wednesday, Feb. 15, in Erie County court. On May 14, 2022, Gendron drove from his home in Conklin, New York, to Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo and opened fire in the grocery store parking lot. Three people died outside the market, and he then entered the store.
Gendron exchanged gunfire with a security guard, who died from his wounds. He shot eight others inside, six of whom died. Buffalo Police made it to the scene within two minutes and apprehended Gendron at the store. Ten people died as a result.
Prosecutors said Gendron shot and killed the victims “based on the race or perceived race of such persons.”
Gendron wore tactical gear during the shooting and used an illegal assault rifle to carry out the killings. The Associated Press reports he streamed the attack on Twitch.
He was arraigned in June on 25 counts, including one count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate, 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder as hate crime, three counts of second-degree attempted murder as hate crime, and one count of criminal possession of a weapon.
In November, Gendron pleaded guilty to one count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate, 10 counts of first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime, and one count of criminal possession of a weapon.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said in a statement following the guilty plea, “After selecting the City of Buffalo as the target of his planned terror attack, this defendant drove for several hours with the intent to kill innocent African American citizens as they shopped for groceries on a Saturday afternoon. Violence, especially violence motivated by hate or prejudice, will not be tolerated.”
The victims are 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, 32-year-old Roberta Drury, 67-year-old Heyward Patterson, 53-year-old Andre Mackniel, 72-year-old Katherine Massey, 65-year-old Celestine Chaney, 62-year-old Geraldine Talley, 55-year-old Aaron Salter, 77-year-old Pearl Young, and 52-year-old Margus Morrison.
WIVB-TV reports Gendron apologized at the sentencing hearing, saying, “I’m very sorry for the pain I’ve forced on the victims and their families to suffer through. I’m very sorry for stealing the lives of your loved ones. I cannot express how much I regret all the decisions I made that led up to my actions on May 14.”
He continued, “I did a terrible thing that day. I shot and killed people because they were Black. Looking back now, I can’t believe I actually did it. I believed what I read online and acted out of hate and now I can’t take it back, but I wish I could. I don’t want anyone to be inspired by me and what I did.”
Family members and loved ones of the victims spoke at the hearing, one of whom ran at Gendron as a victim’s sister spoke.
Gendron also faces federal hate crime charges. According to the New York Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York, “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.”
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