Buffalo shooting suspect Payton Gendron faces federal hate crime charges

Charges against a white suspect were brought when Attorney General Merrick Garland visited the site of the massacre and met with the families of the victims.

“No one in this country should live in fear that they will go to work or shop at the grocery store and be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin,” Garland said after meeting family members.

A criminal complaint filed by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York states that “Gendron’s motive for the mass shooting was to prevent blacks from replacing whites and destroying the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar acts.” attacks.” The complaint detailed Gendron’s extensive plan of attack.

Gendron is accused of shooting 13 people between the ages of 20 and 86 at the Tops Friendly Market on May 14. Eleven of them were black and two were white, Buffalo police said.

The 18-year-old suspect is charged with 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, three counts of hate crimes involving bodily harm, 10 counts of using a firearm to commit murder during and in connection with violent crime and three counts. using and firing a firearm during a violent crime, according to a criminal complaint.

The last three points carry the death penalty.

Garland, who has temporarily suspended federal executions while the department reviews policies and procedures, will have to make a decision on whether to seek the death penalty.

Asked if federal prosecutors would seek the death penalty in this case, Garland said, “The Justice Department has a set of procedures that it follows…Families and survivors will be consulted.”

CNN has reached out to Gendron’s attorneys for comment.

Garland, Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clark visited the memorial next to the supermarket for about 10 minutes Wednesday. Garland placed 10 roses on the spot, one for each person killed.

“In the days and weeks that have passed since the attack, we have all witnessed the strength of this community’s bonds, resilience and love,” Garland told reporters. “I am proud to have just experienced this firsthand in my conversations with families. Hate-fuelled acts of violence terrorize not only individuals who are attacked, but entire communities. Hatred brings immediate devastation and causes unceasing fear.”

The complaint says the shooter had been planning the attack for years.

During a search of the shooter’s home, federal authorities found a laptop with a document containing a detailed plan of an attack that he had allegedly been planning for years. According to the complaint, the document says he “really took” the attack in January seriously.

In the document, Gendron allegedly identified himself as a white man “committed to protecting and serving my community, my people, my culture, and my race” and said he had never been diagnosed with a mental disability or disorder. He allegedly stated that his goal was to kill “as many blacks as possible” and “avoid death”.

In a handwritten note found by agents in his bedroom, Gendron apologized to his family for committing “this attack” and said he did it because he cares “for the future of the White Race,” the complaint said. Agents also found a receipt in his bedroom for a candy bar purchased from Tops on March 8, as well as clear sketches of the store’s layout.

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Authorities believe he visited the store several times, including the day before the attack and again two and a half hours before he allegedly started shooting. The complaint stated that he “counted the number of black people present inside and outside the store.”

The complaint stated that in the hours prior to the shooting, Gendron had “observed ‘large numbers of old and young’ blacks” in the store in the hours before the shooting.

During the rampage, Gendron took aim with a Bushmaster XM-15. rifles at a White supermarket worker who had already been shot in the leg, the complaint said. Instead of shooting him, Gendron apologized to the victim “before going through the rest of the store looking for new blacks to shoot and kill,” the complaint said.

The complaint describes how several customers and employees “hid in a storage room, conference room, freezer and dairy cooler” while others escaped through a back door.

According to the complaint, the shooter fired about 60 shots during the attack.

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On June 1, a New York grand jury returned a 25-count indictment against Gendron. According to court documents, he faces 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime, and three counts of attempted murder as a hate crime. Gendron is also charged with domestic terror and possession of a weapon, according to court documents. He pleaded not guilty to the indictment.

Police said the suspect arrived at the supermarket on the afternoon of May 14 wearing heavy weapons and tactical gear, including a tactical helmet and body armor. He also had a camera that broadcast his actions live.

Authorities said the shooter shot and killed four people outside a grocery store using assault weapons, killing three.

As he entered the store, he got into a shootout with an armed security guard who authorities said was a former Buffalo police officer. The guard died from his injuries. The suspect shot and killed eight other people in the store, six of whom died.

The complaint stated that the rifle used in the attack had inscriptions, including racial slurs and the phrase “Great Replacement”.

Gendron wrote that he chose the Buffalo zip code with the highest percentage of blacks, the one closest to where he lived, and the store with the most blacks, according to the complaint.

Laura Lee of CNN contributed to this report.

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