The 19-year-old white man accused of fatally shooting 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, pleaded guilty Monday morning to more than two dozen related state charges.
Payton Gendron pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime and three counts of attempted murder as a hate crime, as well as other assorted charges.
Gendron carried out the racist massacre in a matter of minutes on May 14 at a Tops Friendly Market. He also wounded three others in the attack with a semi-automatic rifle.
Gendron’s plea, initially scheduled to take place on Nov. 21, was delayed by one week due to the weather. In the days preceding Gendron’s planned court appearance, the Buffalo area was pummeled with lake-effect snow, burying parts of Erie County in six feet of snow.
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Buffalo attorney John Elmore, who represents two families of victims, confirmed the plea earlier this month. In mid-November, he said he has known for several weeks of the plans for the plea, as have the families.
“If he pleads guilty and he gets sentenced in state court to life without parole it’s not over,” Elmore said. “It’s one small step towards justice and there’s still a long ways to go.”
Gendron faces a penalty of life without parole. He also is facing federal hate crime charges that could carry the death penalty. He was 18 at the time of the homicides.
Should the plea include an acceptance of life without parole as a sentence, then federal prosecutors will need to decide whether to continue with their prosecution.
Gendron was armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 and livestreamed the terrifying assault, a video that has continued to survive in corners of the web despite continued efforts to purge it, federal and state prosecutors say.
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Gendron allegedly targeted the predominantly Black neighborhood, killing Black people who were regulars at the popular supermarket. Among those slain were a retired Buffalo policeman and a community activist long known as a pillar of the community.
“He’s not the only person responsible for what happened,” Elmore said. “He was radicalized into becoming a mass shooter with racial supremacy motives.”
Gendron viewed videos of other racist and ethnic-based mass killings, and communicated with like-minded bigots on the web before the killings, according to court records.
“He was radicalized by irresponsible social media platforms,” Elmore said. He said the families are also considering litigation surrounding the sale and manufacturing of the firearm used by Gendron and the body armor he wore.
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Story Credit: usatoday.com