Buffalo supermarket shooter charged with terrorism and hate

BUFFALO, NY (AP) — The 18-year-old white man accused of fatally shooting 10 black people at a Buffalo supermarket was indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday on hate-motivated domestic terrorism and 10 counts of murder in the first degree.

Payton Gendron, detained since the May 14 shooting, is due in court Thursday in Erie County Court.

The 25-count indictment also contains charges of murder and attempted murder as a hate crime and weapons possession.

Gendron had previously been charged with a single count of first-degree murder in the shooting, which also injured three people. He pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors told a judge on May 20 the grand jury had voted to indict Gendron but did not disclose the charges, saying the proceedings were ongoing.

The domestic terrorism charge accuses Gendron of killing “due to the perceived race and/or color” of his victims.

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the Domestic Terrorism Hate Crimes Act in August 2019, following a mass shooting targeting Mexicans at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. The measure, dubbed the “Josef Neumann Domestic Terrorism Hate Crime Act” after an attack on a rabbi’s home in Munsey, New York, was signed into law on April 3, 2020 and went into effect November 1, 2020.

The charge of domestic terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree carries a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Murder charges have been filed for each of the victims, who ranged in age from 32 to 86 and included eight shoppers, the store’s security guard and a church deacon who drove shoppers to and from the store with their groceries.

Buffalo attorney John Elmore, who represents the families of victims Katherine “Kat” Massey, 72, and Andre Mackniel, 53, said he hopes for a conviction on each count.

“This man was motivated by hatred against people he has never met for no reason other than the color of their skin,” Elmore said.

The shooter, carrying an AR-15 type rifle he had recently purchased, opened fire Saturday afternoon at shoppers at the only supermarket in the predominantly black neighborhood.

The shooting, followed 10 days later by a mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, has rekindled a national debate about gun control and violent extremism .

Mackniel was in the store buying a birthday cake for her 3-year-old. Massey was a community activist who stood up for gun control and fought against racism, Elmore said.

“To have my life taken by a white supremacist extremist at the hands of a weapon of mass destruction is extremely heartbreaking to me,” he said. He is part of a team of lawyers exploring potential legal action against the makers of the gun and body armor used by the shooter, as well as social media platforms.

The attack was broadcast live from a helmet-mounted camera.

“One way or another, we are going to find justice for the Massey family, for the Mackniel family and for everyone affected by this tragedy,” Elmore said.

Federal authorities are also investigating the possibility of hate crime charges against Gendron, who has apparently detailed his plans. and his racist motivation in hundreds of pages of writings he posted shortly before the shooting.

Gendron drove about three hours from his home in Conklin, New York, intending to kill as many black people as possible, investigators said.

Amanda Drury, who lost her 32-year-old sister Roberta Drury, said she left it to the court system to decide which charges were appropriate in the case.

“I will continue with my faith in the justice system,” she said.

Gendron’s attorney, Brian Parker, said he had not seen the indictment and could not comment, adding that a judge had barred prosecutors and defense attorneys from publicly discuss the case.

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Associated Press writers Michael Sisak and Jennifer Peltz contributed from New York.

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