Alleged mass shooter Payton S. Gendron has been charged with 26 federal hate crimes, which carries a death penalty over the killing of 10 Black people last month at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket.
The charges against the White suspect came as Attorney General Merrick Garland visited the site of the massacre and met with the families of the victims of the massacre.
“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 after meeting with family members.
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.
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.
The 18-year-old suspect is charged with 10 counts of hate crime resulting in death, three counts of hate crime involving bodily injury, 10 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a violent crime, and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a violent crime, according to a criminal complaint.
The latter three counts carry the potential of the death penalty.
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.”