Albuquerque Journal

Buffalo mass shooter sentenced to life

White supremacis­t killed 10 Black people in 2022


BUFFALO, N.Y. — A white supremacis­t who killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarke­t was sentenced to life in prison without parole Wednesday after relatives of his victims confronted him with pain and rage caused by his racist attack.

Anger briefly turned physical at Payton Gendron’s sentencing when a victim’s family member rushed at him from the audience. The man was quickly restrained; prosecutor­s later said he wouldn’t be charged. The proceeding then resumed with an emotional outpouring from people who lost loved ones or were themselves wounded in the attack.

Gendron, whose hatred was fueled by racist conspiracy theories he encountere­d online, cried during some of the testimony and apologized to victims and their families in a brief statement.

Their remarks ranged from sorrow to outrage, shouts to tears. Some vehemently condemned him; others quoted from the Bible or said they were praying for him. Several pointed out that he deliberate­ly attacked a Black community a three-hour drive from his home in overwhelmi­ngly white Conklin, New York.

“You’ve been brainwashe­d,” Wayne Jones Sr., the only child of victim Celestine Chaney, said as sobs rose from the audience. “You don’t even know Black people that much to hate them. You learned this on the internet.”

“I hope you find it in your heart to apologize to these people, man. You did wrong for no reason,” Jones said.

Gendron’s victims at the Tops Friendly Market — the only supermarke­t and a neighborho­od hub on Buffalo’s largely Black East Side — included a church deacon, the grocery store’s guard, a man shopping for a birthday cake, a grandmothe­r of nine and the mother of a former Buffalo fire commission­er. The victims ranged in age from 32 to 86.

Gendron pleaded guilty in November to crimes including murder and domestic terrorism motivated by hate, a charge that carried an automatic life sentence.

“There can be no mercy for you, no understand­ing, no second chances,” Judge Susan Eagan said as she sentenced him.

Gendron, 19, is due in a federal court Thursday for a status update in a separate case that could carry a death sentence if prosecutor­s seek it. His attorney said in December that Gendron is prepared to plead guilty in federal court to avoid execution. New York state does not have the death penalty.

Livestream­ing attack

The gunman wore bullet-resistant armor and a helmet equipped with a livestream­ing camera as he carried out the May 14 attack with a semiautoma­tic rifle he purchased legally but then modified so he could load it with illegal high-capacity ammunition magazines.

In his short statement, Gendron acknowledg­ed he “shot and killed people because they were Black.”

“I believed what I read online and acted out of hate, and now I can’t take it back, but I wish I could, and I don’t want anyone to be inspired by me,” he said.

There were only three survivors among the 13 people he shot while specifical­ly seeking out Black shoppers and workers.

In documents posted online, Gendron said he hoped the attack would help preserve white power in the U.S. He wrote that he picked the Tops grocery store because it is in a predominan­tly Black neighborho­od. Prosecutor Justin Caldwell said Gendron hoped to start a race war, but instead the community came together.

The mass shooting in Buffalo, soon followed by another that killed 19 students and two teachers at a Texas elementary school, amplified calls for stronger gun controls.

New York legislator­s quickly passed a law banning semiautoma­tic rifle sales to most people under age 21. The state also banned sales of some types of body armor.

 ?? DEREK GEE/ THE BUFFALO NEWS VIA AP, POOL ?? Payton Gendron weeps as he listens to an impact statement during his sentencing Wednesday in Buffalo, N.Y.
DEREK GEE/ THE BUFFALO NEWS VIA AP, POOL Payton Gendron weeps as he listens to an impact statement during his sentencing Wednesday in Buffalo, N.Y.

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