DOJ To Pursue Death Penalty Against Buffalo Supermarket Shooter

The Department of Justice said in a court filing Friday that it will pursue the death penalty for Payton Gendron, who killed 10 people inside a Buffalo, New York, supermarket in 2022 during a racist attack.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2022 on 27 counts involving hate crime and firearm offenses.

Gendron livestreamed part of the attack on Twitch, a streaming platform, but it was shut down in under two minutes. He wrote a 180-page manifesto beforehand, in which he proclaimed his support for white supremacy and his belief in the racist “great replacement” theory.

President Joe Biden visited Buffalo days after the shooting, condemning Gendron’s acts of preying on one of the poorest Black communities in the city. Biden has previously said that he was against the federal death penalty.

A jury sentenced Gendron in Erie County Court in February 2023 to life in prison without parole on 10 first-degree murder charges.

Prosecutors wrote in federal court documents that Gendron “intentionally killed Roberta Drury, Pearl Young, Heyward Patterson, Ruth Whitfield, Celestine Chaney, Aaron W. Salter, Jr., Andre Mackniel, Margus Morrison, Katherine Massey, and Geraldine Talley.”

They said they were seeking the death penalty because Gendron “intentionally and specifically engaged” in an act of violence knowing he could also harm other people in the store or nearby, and cited aggravating factors, including that it was allegedly a racially motivated attack and attempt to incite further violence.

Gendron’s next court date is Feb. 2. He did not appear in court Friday during a status hearing.

Mark Talley, the son of Tops shooting victim Geraldine Talley, said Friday that Gendron committed a “domestic terrorist attack.”

“That’s grounds enough to pursue the death penalty. I have no problem with them doing it,” Talley told reporters outside the courthouse, but added: “I would have preferred he stayed locked up right here in county jail for the rest of his life, surrounded by people who wanted to kill him every day.”

John Elmore — an attorney representing the estates of shooting victims Heyward Patterson, Katherine Massey and Andre Mackniel, as well as survivor Latisha Rogers — told HuffPost he supports the families’ demands in the case. But, he said, Gendron being sentenced to death will not stop people from committing mass shootings.

“He has already pleaded guilty to murder in state court and sentenced to life without possibility of parole. All of their families have expressed their feelings to the Justice Department. Some were for it, and some were opposed,” Elmore said.

“How the families feel about it, their opinions matter to me.”

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