Terror, murder charges for alleged Buffalo gunman

Carolyn Thompson
The Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The white 18-year-old man accused of fatally shooting 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket was charged Wednesday by a grand jury with domestic terrorism motivated by hate and 10 counts of first-degree murder.

Payton Gendron, who has been in custody since the May 14 shooting, is set to be arraigned Thursday.

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 has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors told a judge May 20 the grand jury had voted to indict Gendron but did not disclose charges, saying proceedings were ongoing.

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

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed the domestic terrorism hate crime law in August 2019. The measure was signed into law on April 3, 2020, and took effect Nov. 1, 2020.

The charge, Domestic Acts of Terrorism Motivated by Hate in the First Degree, is punishable with a sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

Murder charges were filed for each of the victims, who ranged in age from 32 to 86 and included eight shoppers, the store 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 hoped for a conviction on every count.

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

The gunman, carrying an AR-15-style rifle he had recently purchased, opened fire on Saturday afternoon shoppers at the only supermarket in the predominantly Black neighborhood.Federal officials are investigating the possibility of hate crime charges against Gendron, who apparently detailed plans and racist motivation in hundreds of pages of writings he posted online.

Gendron drove about three hours from his home intending to kill as many Black people as possible, investigators have said.