The Department of Justice has filed multiple federal hate crimes charges against the alleged Buffalo mass shooter Payton Gendron.
DOJ officials filed a criminal complaint Wednesday morning in the Western District of New York, with 26 counts of hate crimes and firearms offenses, which carry the potential of the death penalty.
According to the criminal complaint, “Gendron’s motive for the mass shooting was to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks.”
He is charged with 10 counts of hate crime resulting in death, 3 counts of hate crime involving bodily injury and attempt to kill, 10 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in retaliation to a crime of violence, and 3 counts of use and discharge of a firearm during and in retaliation to a crime of violence.
Specifically, the counts of, use of a firearm to commit murder during and in retaliation to a crime of violence, carry the potential of the death penalty.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland traveled to Buffalo, New York’s second-largest city, Wednesday to meet with the families of victims and survivors of the mass shooting at Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue on May 14. Garland placed a bouquet of white flowers tied with a yellow ribbon at a memorial to the victims outside the store, which has been shuttered since the attack, according to The Associated Press.
Gendron was already facing a mandatory life sentence without parole if convicted on previously filed state charges.
The federal hate crimes case is based partly on documents in which prosecutors say Gendron allegedly laid out his radical, racist worldview and extensive preparation for the attack, some of which he posted online shortly before he started shooting.
FBI agents executing a search warrant at Gendron’s home the day after the shooting found a note in which he apologized to his family for the shooting and stated that he “had to commit this attack” because he cares “for the future of the White race,” according to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint.
Agents at the Conklin, New York, home also found a receipt for a candy bar purchased from the supermarket on March 8, the day Gendron said in an online diary he went to scout out the store, as well as hand drawn sketches of the store’s layout, the affidavit said.
The affidavit also includes detailed accounts of Gendron’s plot to attack the store, which he documented in detail in an online diary, and the attack itself, which he live-streamed on social media.
Gendron drove more than 200 miles from his home in Conklin to a predominantly Black part of Buffalo, where authorities say he fired approximately 60 shots at shoppers and workers using an AR-15-style rifle, wearing body armor to protect himself and livestreaming the carnage from a helmet-mounted camera. Three wounded people — one Black, two White — survived the attack.
Gendron’s rifle had writings on it, including the names of other people who’ve committed mass shootings, racial slurs and statements such as, “Here’s your reparations!”, and a reference to the replacement theory, the affidavit said.
The 18-year-old surrendered to police as he exited the supermarket.
He has pleaded not guilty to a state domestic terrorism charge, including hate-motivated domestic terrorism and murder.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.