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Tops shooting suspect arraigned in Buffalo City Court, public defender enters 'not guilty' plea on his behalf

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Posted at 7:49 PM, May 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 16:35:17-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — An 18-year-old man has been arraigned in Buffalo City Court on Saturday evening, charged with first-degree murder in connection to the mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo on Saturday.

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18-year-old shooting suspect

The suspect, who police say drove several hours from Conklin, New York to the grocery store on Saturday, appeared in court wearing a white paper smock and handcuffed.

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Suspect handcuffed in court.

Authorities say he shot several people in the parking lot of Tops before entering the store and continuing the shooting. He was taken into custody by the Buffalo Police Department inside the store.

The suspect sitting before Buffalo City Court Chief Judge Craig Hannah who read the charges.

“You've been charged with multiple counts of murder in the first degree,” stated Judge Hannah.

The suspect said very little, only answering the judge's questions.

“There should be a copy of the charges in front of you. Do you understand that sir?” Judge Hannah asked. “Yes, sir,” replied the suspect.

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Payton Gendron appeared in court Saturday night.

“Do you need me to read the charges to you or do you understand your charges?” Judge Hannah questioned. “I understand my charges,” responded the suspect.

The suspect told the judge he could not afford an attorney.

Public defender Brian Parker is representing him.

“As far as any further reading of the following complaint I would waive that at this point and enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of my client,” Parker stated.

A forensic exam will also be performed. The prosecutor informed the court the case will be presented directly to a grand jury.

The suspect, now being held without bail, will return to court for a felony hearing Thursday, May 19 at 9:30.

The FBI is investigating the shooting as a racially-motivated attack and a hate crime. Of the 13 people shot, 11 people were Black. 10 people were killed in the shooting. Three suffered non-life threatening injuries and are receiving treatment at ECMC.