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Federal grand jury indicts Buffalo mass shooting suspect on federal hate crime and firearm charges

TOPS DRONE 2.jpg
Posted at 2:14 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 09:34:04-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A federal grand jury has indicted the Buffalo mass shooting suspect on federal hate crime and firearm charges.

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday a federal grand jury returned a 27-count indictment charging the suspect, 19-year-old Payton Gendron of Conklin, with 14 violations of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Shepard-Byrd Act) and 13 firearms offenses in connection to the mass shooting on May 14 at Tops on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo.

The indictment alleges the suspect arrived at Tops and opened fire with a Bushmaster XM rifle. 10 people were killed and three others were injured. As Western New York mourns with the families who lost loved ones, 7 News wishes to honor their memory. You can learn more about each of the victims here.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said the indictment charges that the suspect "violated the Shepard-Byrd Act by willfully causing the death of the victims because of their actual and perceived race and color."

In addition, the U.S. Attorney's Office said the indictment charges the suspect with:

  • 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death
  • Three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill three injured individuals
  • One hate crimes count alleging he attempted to kill additional Black people in and around the Tops grocery store
  • 13 counts of using, carrying, or discharging a firearm in relation to the hate crimes, and seeks forfeiture of items, including the weapon used in the shooting
“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. 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.”
- Attorney General Merrick B. Garland

The U.S. Attorney's Office said the charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment or the death penalty.

"The Attorney General will decide whether to seek the death penalty at a later time. Should the Attorney General determine that the circumstances of the offense are such that a sentence of death is justified, the law requires that notice be filed with the court at a reasonable time before trial," a release says.

The suspect is currently in state custody pending state criminal charges.

Thursday marks two months since the shooting and there will be a moment of silence and prayer at 2:30 p.m. "to honor and respect all victims and impacted associates and community members," according to Tops. The store will then reopen to the public Friday.