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Thursday, July 14, 2022

Fed's AG will Decide whether to Pursue Death Penalty:
Accused Tops Market shooter indicted on 27 federal hate crime charges

By MATT SURTEL, msurtel@batavianews.com

BUFFALO — The man charged with murdering 10 people in the Tops Market massacre was indicted Thursday on 27 federal hate crime charges.

Payton Gendron, 19, was indicted for 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death; three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill three injured individuals; and one count alleging he tried to kill additional Black people in and around the supermarket.

The indictment also charges him with 13 counts of using, carrying, or discharging a firearm in relation to the hate crimes. It seeks forfeiture of items, including the weapon used in the shooting.

The indictment includes special findings alleging — among other things — that Gendron committed the offense after substantial planning and premeditation to commit an act of terrorism, according to federal prosecutors.

“Today, a grand jury has indicted Payton Gendron with hate crime and firearms offenses following the horrific attack on the Black community of Buffalo that killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14, 2022,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a statement. “The Justice Department fully recognizes the threat that white supremacist violence poses to the safety of the American people and American democracy. We will continue to be relentless in our efforts to combat hate crimes, to support the communities terrorized by them, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them.”

The accused shooter faces up to life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.

The Attorney General — currently Garland — will decide at a later time whether the death penalty will be pursued.

If the death penalty is determined to be justified, notice must be filed with the court at a reasonable time before trial, federal prosecutors said.

Gendron is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on July 18. 

The indictments were made two months to the day after the May 14 attack targeting shoppers and employees at the market on Jefferson Avenue. Ten Black people were killed and another three people wounded.

Investigators say Gendron drove three hours from his home in Conklin, Broome County to conduct the attack, which was livestreamed on social media.

A written statement — attributed to the shooter and posted online — was filled with racist and anti-Semitic statements.

In addition to the federal charges, Gendron is also facing 25 state charges in connection with the attack.

The state charges include one count of first-degree domestic act of terrorism; 10 counts each of first-degree murder and second-degree murder as a hate crime; three counts of second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime; one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

He remains at the Erie County Holding Center without bail.

The Tops Market targeted in the attack has been remodeled extensively. It is set to reopen Friday.

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