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Buffalo Mass Shooter Sentenced to Life in Prison

The White man who pled guilty to killing 10 Black people and wounding three others in a hate-fueled mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, last year was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole.

Payton Gendron was read his punishment in Erie County Court after pleading guilty in November to charges including murder and domestic terrorism motivated by hate in relation to the May 2022 attack at a Tops Friendly Market. The hearing was interrupted at one point by a man who lunged at Gendron while a family member was reading a victim impact statement, and the shooter himself was seen weeping as relatives of those who lost their loved ones delivered remarks.

“I’m very sorry for the pain. I forced the victims and their families to suffer through. I’m very sorry for stealing the lives of your loved ones,” Gendron told the courtroom just prior to learning his fate. “I cannot express how much I regret all the decisions I made leading up to my actions on May 14th.

“I did a terrible thing that day. I shot and killed people because they were Black. Looking back now, I can’t believe I actually did it,” he added. “I believed what I read online and acted out of hate. I know I can’t take it back. But I wish I could. And I don’t want anyone to be inspired by me and what I did.”

A prosecutor representing the Erie County District Attorney’s Office called the sentence “an opportunity to say no to racism, to say no to hate, our chance to hold this defendant accountable and show others that think like the defendant, that these acts have no place in our society and that there will be dire consequences.”

Brian Parker, a defense attorney representing Gendron, said he “will spend the rest of his life locked away and eventually he will die in state prison.

“We hope that knowing he will never be free again will offer some small bit of comfort to those that he hurt so much,” Parker added.

Judge Susan Eagan said “There is no place for you or your ignorant, hateful and evil ideologies in civilized society” and “There can be no mercy for you, no understanding, no second chances.”

Gendron appeared to show no emotion as Egan delivered the sentencing. His legal team said it will not appeal the ruling.

During victim impact statements, a family member representing victim Ruth Whitfield, the 86-year-old mother of a former Buffalo fire commissioner, turned to Gendron and called him a “cowardly racist” for carrying out the shooting.

“We find strength in knowing that her legacy will outlive you. You will simply go from a name to a number,” she said. “You’ll be herded like cattle. You will be shut away from the world. You will not enjoy family events. You will not enjoy outings with friends. You will be nameless and faceless and we feel sorry for you. We pity you.”

“Even with all of the heartache that you have caused, you still have to break our family spirit,” she added. “You thought you broke us, but you awoke us. We all know the pure hatred and motivations behind your heinous crime and. And we are here to tell you that you failed.”

Gendron, now 19, wore bullet-resistant armor and a helmet equipped with a livestreaming camera as he carried out the May 14, 2022, attack.

He killed his victims with a semiautomatic rifle that was purchased legally but then modified so he could load it with high-capacity ammunition magazines that are illegal in New York.

Gendron’s victims included a church deacon, the grocery store’s guard, a neighborhood activist, a man shopping for a birthday cake, and a grandmother of nine. They ranged in age from 32 to 86.

Authorities said Gendron drove about three hours to Buffalo from his home in Conklin, New York, to carry out the shooting. Shortly before opening fire, he posted documents that outlined his White supremacist views and revealed he had been planning the attack for months.

In those documents, Gendron said he hoped the attack would help preserve White power in the U.S. and that he picked the Tops grocery store because it was in a predominantly Black neighborhood, according to The Associated Press.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he instructed court officers to not press charges against the man who rushed at Gendron inside the courtroom Wednesday.

Gendron, he added, will probably be transferred Thursday to federal custody for prosecution for federal hate crimes, which he has pleaded not guilty to. If federal prosecutors don’t pursue the death penalty, a decision will be made where Gendron will serve out his sentence, he also said.

In a December hearing, defense attorney Sonya Zoghlin said Gendron is prepared to enter a guilty plea in federal court in exchange for a life sentence.

  • Char Kolzow says:

    almighty God IN HIS IMAGE. has allowed him or herself to ver foolishly believe that the IS NO GOD and IF there is, WE HUMANS ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE TO HIM. We are responsible for being SELF-deluded!!!

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