US files hate crimes charges against Buffalo shooting gunman

Payton Gendron faces 26 counts of hate crimes and firearms offenses, according to the criminal complaint.

Buffalo shooting suspect Payton S. Gendron appears in court accused of killing 10 people in a supermarket earlier this month. How did some purported experts link this Jew-hater’s Great Replacement theory rants to a Zionist ‘opposition to the Palestinian right of return’?  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Buffalo shooting suspect Payton S. Gendron appears in court accused of killing 10 people in a supermarket earlier this month. How did some purported experts link this Jew-hater’s Great Replacement theory rants to a Zionist ‘opposition to the Palestinian right of return’?
(photo credit: REUTERS)

The US Justice Department on Wednesday filed federal hate crime charges against an 18-year-old white supremacist accused of killing 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, last month.

Payton Gendron faces 26 counts of hate crimes and firearms offenses, according to the criminal complaint.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, who traveled to the site of the May 14 mass shooting in northwestern New York state on Wednesday and met with victims' families, is expected to formally announce the charges at a news conference.

Gendron has already pleaded not guilty to 25 state criminal charges, including first- and second-degree murder and domestic terrorism motivated by hate.

New York's domestic terrorism hate crime charge alone carries a penalty of life imprisonment without parole on conviction.

 People walk past a hearse outside funeral for Buffalo shooting victim Ruth Whitfield who was shot and killed in the attack by an avowed white supremacist at Tops supermarket, in Buffalo, New York, US May 28, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario) People walk past a hearse outside funeral for Buffalo shooting victim Ruth Whitfield who was shot and killed in the attack by an avowed white supremacist at Tops supermarket, in Buffalo, New York, US May 28, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario)

Gendron, who killed 10 people and wounded three, partially broadcast the attack in real-time on the Twitch live streaming service before surrendering to police. He apparently posted a white supremacist rant and a lengthy checklist and account of his preparations online before the rampage.

In his lengthy post, he indicated he had been inspired by previous racially motivated mass killings.

The problem

The Buffalo shooting, along with a mass shooting a short time later in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school dead, has led to renewed calls to enact tougher gun laws.

On Tuesday, US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he was "comfortable" with the framework of a new bipartisan gun safety bill that, if passed into law, would mark the most significant firearms reform measure in years.

The legislation is less ambitious than what President Joe Biden has sought, but would still accomplish several goals, including supporting states' "red flag" laws, imposing tougher criminal background checks for gun buyers under age 21, and giving law enforcement more tools to crack down on "straw purchases" by people buying weapons for others who could not pass a background check.