An 18-year-old white man accused of fatally shooting 10 black people at a Buffalo supermarket was charged with federal hate crimes on Wednesday and could face the death penalty.
The criminal complaint filed Wednesday against Peyton Gendron coincided with a trip to Buffalo by Attorney General Merrick Garland. The attorney general was expected to address federal charges and meet with the families of those killed.
Garland placed a bouquet of white flowers tied with a yellow ribbon at the victims’ memorial outside the shop, which has been closed and repaired since the attack.
Gendron was already facing a mandatory life sentence without parole when he pleaded guilty on state charges already filed in a May 14 stampede.
Three people survived the attack at Tops Friendly Market – one black, two white. According to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, ballistic evidence indicated that Gendron fired about 60 shots during the attack.
Gendron’s radical, racist worldview and extensive preparation for the attack were laid out in documents he apparently wrote about and posted online shortly before officers began shooting.
FBI agents executed a search warrant at Gendron’s home the day after the shooting, finding a note in which he apologized to his family for the shooting and said he “had to do this attack” because he “cared about the future of the white race.” According to an affidavit filed along with the criminal complaint.
The affidavit said Gendron signed the note and addressed it to his family.
Agents at the Conklin, New York home also found a receipt for a candy bar purchased from the supermarket on March 8, the day Gendron said in an online diary that he went to locate the store, as well as the layout of the store. Sketches made from. stated in the affidavit.
The affidavit also included detailed descriptions of Gendron’s plot to attack the store, which he documented in detail in an online diary, and the attack itself he had live-streamed on social media.
In his writings, Gendron embraces a baseless conspiracy theory about a conspiracy to undermine the power of white Americans and “replace” them with people of color through immigration and other means.
The post detailed months of reconnaissance, demographic research and shooting exercises for the bloodbath, aimed at intimidating all those who are not white and Christian and ready to leave the country.
Gendron drove more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) from his home in a nearly all-white city near the New York-Pennsylvania border, a predominantly black part of Buffalo. There, officials say, he crushed shoppers and workers using an AR-15-style rifle, wearing body armor to protect himself and livestreaming the massacre with a helmet-mounted camera.
The affidavit said Gendron’s rifle contained other people’s names, racial slurs and statements such as “Here’s your repair!”, and references to the replacement doctrine.
The 18-year-old surrendered to the police as soon as he left the supermarket.
He has pleaded not guilty to charges of domestic terrorism motivated by hate and domestic terrorism of the state, including murder.
According to online documents attributed to Gendron, he searched supermarkets in March, drew maps and even counted the number of black people he saw there.
Federal officials had said they were considering hate crime charges in the killings, which escalated the continuing toll of gun violence in the United States.
Ten days after the attack in Buffalo, another 18-year-old with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire in a Texas elementary school in Uvalde, killing 19 children and two teachers.
Soon after, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed 10 public safety-related bills, one prohibiting New Yorkers under the age of 21 from purchasing a semi-automatic rifle and the other a state “red flag” law. amends, which allows for the temporary removal of courts. Guns from people who may be a danger to themselves or others.
The US Senate followed up on June 12 with a bipartisan agreement on more modest federal gun restrictions and efforts to improve school safety and mental health programs.
The case is likely to present a controversy for Garland, who has vowed to aggressively prioritize lawsuits over civil rights cases but ended the Trump administration on federal executions last year after an unprecedented run of the death penalty. was banned.
The moratorium imposed in July 2021 prevents the Bureau of Prisons from carrying out any execution. But the memo doesn’t stop federal prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, a decision that will ultimately fall on Garland. The Biden administration has previously asked the US Supreme Court to restore the original death sentence to the Boston Marathon bomber.
The executions have been put on hold as the Justice Department reviews its policies and procedures for the death penalty. The review, which is ongoing, comes after 13 people were hanged at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, between July 2020 and January 2021.
President Joe Biden has said he opposes the death penalty and his team vowed that he would take action to stop its use while in office.