The Department of Justice charged the man who allegedly drove over two hours in the early morning of May 14, apparently motivated by a racist hate, to kill Black people on Buffalo’s east side with a federal hate crime on Wednesday.
Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, New York, was charged with hate crimes resulting in death and hate crimes causing bodily injury and with attempt to kill, and other charges after he killed a total of 10 Black people and injured three others that were at Top’s market on May 14.
The indictment announced by Attorney General Merrick Garland is an example of accountability for actions of extremism and hate.
“In the days and weeks since the attack, we have all witnessed the strength of this community’s bonds, its resilience and its love. I am humbled to have just felt that firsthand in my discussions with the families,” Garland said in remarks Wednesday.
“At the Justice Department, we view confronting hate crimes as both our legal and our moral obligation. The Justice Department was founded more than 150 years ago with the first principal task of protecting Black Americans ― and our democracy ― from white supremacist violence. Today, we approach that task with the same degree of urgency as we did then.”
Gendron reportedly live-streamed the shooting on the internet and was wearing a tactical style helmet, camouflage clothing, body armor and a GoPro video camera. Gendron used a loaded Bushmaster XM-15 .223 caliber rifle and multiple loaded magazines. Gendron parked his car in the parking lot and immediately killed three Black people and injured another outside of the store.
He fired several more shots through the store window before entering, and immediately killed two other Black people. After exchanging gunfire with an armed security guard at the store, Gendron killed him too.
Gendron then turned and aimed the rifle at a white male who at some point was shot in the leg during the incident. Instead of shooting him, Gendron turned and told the white employee, “sorry,” according to the DOJ filing.
One of the shots also struck a white female Tops employee who was working near the pharmacy area in the store. He then walked through a checkout lane and killed another Black person, continued to move through the aisles and killed three more Black people.
He walked to the front of the store where Buffalo police took him into custody, unharmed.
Gendron’s rifle picked up by law enforcement had several racial slurs on it saying, “Here’s your reparations!” and the phrase, “The Great Replacement.” Investigators found that Gendron fired a total of 60 shots the day of the shooting. Two other loaded guns and three loaded rifle magazines were recovered from Gendron’s vehicle.
Gendron’s motive was to prevent Black people from replacing whites and eliminating the white race. He also sought to inspire others to commit the same attack, authorities said.
Earlier this month, a state grand jury indicted Gendron on charges on domestic terrorism motivated by hate and 10 counts of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty to state charges and has been in custody since the date of the incident.
Months before the shooting, police say Gendron wrote a racist manifesto where he detailed his plot to kill Black people at the store, a diagram layout of the market and the clothes and weapons he would wear and use. Gendron also wrote he used the address because the neighborhood was the most highly concentrated area of Black people closest to him and Tops was a store residents in the community frequented most often.
Gendron also traveled to Tops multiple times before the shooting occurred to scout the area, including two and a half hours before it happened.
Following the announcement, survivors of the racist attack and community advocates rallied together, demanding that all of their transactions from the day of the shooting be returned along with all property, including cash, checks, identification and other personal property.
Advocates are also demanding that survivors and family members have full compensation for their paycheck from their employer where they will be allowed time off without being reprimanded.
The rally was led by Cariol Horne, as well-known community organizer in the city that arrived to the shooting scene nearly at the same time as police after Gendron’s attack.
Taisiah Stewart, 20, said he went to work two days after the shooting happened. He still had injuries on his foot from when he ran out of the store trying to escape Gendron’s attack.
“I don’t sleep like that anymore, I barely eat now,” Stewart told reporters on Wednesday. “Really I feel like nobody really cares. I have not received anything since. I am going through it, my mother is going through it.”
Myles Carter, a grassroots activist from Buffalo, spoke during the rally demanding that the items lost and purchased during the attack need to be given back.
“They spent money here and they weren’t able to consume the goods that they purchased or lost their money. Those things need to be returned,” Carter said.
“We are not menacing words on that. Return money back to the community.”