Peyton Gendron, who was dressed in an orange jumpsuit and shackled at the hands and feet, was asked by the judge if he understood the charges against him and he nodded and said ‘yes, madam’ .
Erie County Supreme Court Judge Susan Eagan agreed with County District Attorney John Feroleto and remanded Gendron until his next court date on July 7.
An Erie County jury charged the alleged shooter with one count of first-degree hate-motivated domestic terrorism for killing the 10 people “in whole or in large part because of race and/or perceived color of that person or persons regardless of whether that belief or perception was correct,” the indictment reads. This is the first time the charge has been levied since it was added to state law in 2020, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said.
If convicted, Gendron faces life without parole, the only sentence for the domestic terrorism charge, Flynn said. In order to use this charge, prosecutors must prove that five or more people were murdered with racially motivated intent, he added.
They also charged Gendron with 10 counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime, saying he “intentionally committed this act in whole or in large part because of a belief or perception regarding the race and/or color of [DECEASED VICTIM]regardless of whether the belief or perception was correct,” it read.
The grand jury also indicted him on three counts of attempted second-degree murder as a hate crime, including the attempted murder of Zaire Goodman, the son of a member of the senator’s staff. state that was the only black man shot who did not die. Two of the attempted murder hate crime charges involve white victims, but Flynn said he could use that charge because of Gendron’s alleged intent.
Gendron was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon, according to court documents.
First-degree murder covers two or more deaths, but prosecutors chose to bring 10 first-degree murder charges, Flynn said, so each victim could be named in the indictment.
Prosecutors have invited the families to attend a private meeting before Thursday’s hearing to understand the charges.
“I can assure the families and the community that justice is served,” Flynn said.
Additionally, there is now a gag order in the case, which bars all parties from speaking to the public following a defense motion last week. An exception was made Thursday for the prosecutor to notify the public of the charges and the indictment, Flynn said.
“The wheels of justice are turning very quickly,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said after the arraignment. “The families of the victims have demanded and are demanding justice. The members of this community demand justice.
Brown said many in the community have expressed a desire for a memorial for the “Buffalo 10” and he seeks to do so properly and with sensitivity.
Official: “No mistake”, it’s a hate crime
Further charges could be brought federally as authorities are investigating the shooting as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism, said Stephen Belongia, FBI special agent in charge of the Buffalo field office. .
He allegedly opened fire in the store’s parking lot, killing four people, before entering the store where he killed the former policeman, who worked as a security guard, Gramaglia said. Gendron then shot and killed eight other people inside the store before surrendering to police, the commissioner alleged.
A 911 dispatcher who mishandled a call from a Tops supermarket employee during the shooting was fired on Thursday, the Erie County Personnel Department confirmed to CNN. The dispatcher, whose name has not been released, had been on paid administrative leave since May 16, the department said.
Latisha Rogers, the assistant manager of the Buffalo Marketplace office who called 911, told CNN the dispatcher asked her why she was whispering during the call.
In part, Rogers said, “Please send help, there’s someone in the store shooting.”
” What ? I can’t hear you,” the dispatcher replied. “Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper, they can’t hear you. »
County Manager Mark Poloncarz previously said the dispatcher was “inappropriate” on the call.
“We teach our 911 operators that if someone is whispering, it probably means they are in trouble” and that the caller may be in “an area of concern, not only with regard to active shooters, but potentially as far as domestic violence anyone can call it,” Poloncarz said at the time.
During his arrest, the suspect made disturbing statements outlining his motive and mindset, including an acknowledgment that he was targeting the black community, according to an official familiar with the investigation.
“The evidence we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime,” Gramaglia said. “He is someone who has hatred in his heart, soul and mind.”
Garcia described the shooting as “pure evil”, adding that it was a “racially motivated hate crime”.
Documents indicate premeditation
Further investigation revealed that Gendron made a “widespread threat” while attending Susquehanna Valley Central High School last year, and that state police visited him after he completed a school project on the murder-suicides, officials said.
“State police arrived at his house this time last year,” Garcia said. “He stayed in a facility – I don’t know if it was a hospital or a mental health facility – for a day and a half.”
The suspect planned to continue his shooting beyond the supermarket, Gramaglia said, adding that there were documents indicating that he planned to target “another large supermarket”.
He also says he considered attacking a church or an elementary school, but chose the supermarket because of the number of people who frequent the grocery stores. He used Google’s popular hours feature for Tops Friendly Market to determine the busiest time of day to attack the store, according to the publications.
CNN’s David Lopez, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Christina Maxouris, Amir Vera, Chuck Johnston, Rob Frehse and Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report.