Buffalo shooting suspect charged with federal hate crimes over massacre of 10 Black people

Buffalo mass shooting suspect Payton Gendron has been charged with federal hate crimes over the massacre of 10 Black people in a New York grocery store last month.

The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that it had filed a slew of 26 charges against the 18-year-old self-proclaimed white supremacist and racist.

The charges include 10 counts of hate crime resulting in death, three counts involving bodily injury and attempt to kill, 10 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder and in retaliation to a crime of violence and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during and in retaliation to a crime of violence.

Prosecutors said the hate crime charges were brought because “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”.

If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

The charges were filed the same day Attorney General Merrick Garland is set to travel to Buffalo to visit the site of the mass shooting and meet with victims’ family members and survivors of the attack which tore apart the lives of families and the wider community.

Mr Garland had vowed to “relentlessly” investigate the mass shooting as a hate crime and racially-motivated violent extremism days after the 14 May massacre.

That Saturday afternoon, Mr Gendron allegedly drove from his home in Conklin, New York, to the Tops Friendly Market grocery store, handpicking the city of Buffalo to carry out the attack because of its predominantly Black population.

Dressed in tactical gear and armed with a semi-automatic rifle, he opened fire outside the store first before moving through the store aisles shooting more victims.

In total, 13 people were shot in the attack, 10 of them fatally.

In total, 11 of the 13 victims were Black and all 10 of those killed were Black.

Payton Gendron appears in court on 19 May where he was indicted by a grand jury over the mass shooting

(REUTERS)

In an online manifesto said to be posted by the gunman, Mr Gendron called himself a racist, white supremacist and antisemite and detailed how he had been inspired by other white supremacist mass shooters to carry out the attack.

He also cited the debunked “great replacement theory” which has repeatedly been echoed by right-wing personalities such as Fox News’ Tucker Carlson – an extremist conspiracy theory that falsely claims there is a plot to diminish the influence of white people.

Following Mr Gendron’s arrest, he made “disturbing statements” about his motive, making clear that he was “filled with hate toward the Black community” and was targeting Black people, according to officials.

His firearm had the n-word written on it and the number 14 – an apparent reference to a conspiracy theory.

Officials have since said that the gunman planned to continue the mass shooting at at least one other location in the community but was stopped by law enforcement who took him into custody at the scene.

The federal charges announced Wednesday come on top of multiple state charges against the suspected gunman who is accused of boasting about his plans for the massacre online in a racist, hate-filled manifesto.

Mr Gendron was arraigned on 25 state counts including 10 counts of first-degree murder and domestic terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree earlier this month.

The state terrorism charge came into law in the state in November 2020 and Mr Gendron is the first person to ever be charged with it.

People pray outside the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The mass shooting in Buffalo came just 10 days before 21 people – 19 students aged nine to 11 years old and two teachers – were shot and killed at a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on 24 May.

Gunman Salvador Ramos, 18, also used a semi-automatic rifle in that attack.

Just over one week later on 1 June, four people were then shot and killed at a medical centre in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Last week, victims’ families and survivors of the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings testified before the House Oversight Committee as calls are mounting on lawmakers to tighten gun regulations to prevent more families from being torn apart by the nation’s growing numbers of mass shootings.

Zeneta Everhart, the mother of Buffalo survivor Zaire Goodman, gave emotional testimony inviting lawmakers to come to her home and clean the wounds on her son’s bullet-ridden body if they continue to refuse to tackle America’s escalating gun violence.

“To the lawmakers who feel that we do not need stricter gun laws let me paint a picture for you: My son Zaire has a hole in the right side of his neck, two on his back, and another on his left leg, caused by an exploding bullet from an AR-15,” she told lawmakers.

“If after hearing from me and the other people testifying here today, does not move you to act on gun laws, I invite you to my home to help me clean Zaire’s wounds so that you may see up close the damage that has been caused to my son and to my community.”

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of senators said they had reached a deal on a package of narrow gun safety measures.

The deal includes expanding background checks for people aged 18 to 21 and more money for school safety and mental health resources.

It does not include a ban on assault weapons like many are calling for, after high capacity rifles were used in the recent attacks to kill multiple people.