Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect pleads guilty to murder

The shooter, Payton Gendron, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 10 counts of second-degree murder, all of them as hate crimes.

  Buffalo shooting suspect, Payton Gendron, appears in court accused of killing 10 people in a live-streamed supermarket shooting in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, U.S., May 19, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID/FILE PHOTO)
Buffalo shooting suspect, Payton Gendron, appears in court accused of killing 10 people in a live-streamed supermarket shooting in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, U.S., May 19, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID/FILE PHOTO)

An avowed white supremacist pleaded guilty on Monday to first-degree murder and other state charges in a mass shooting that killed 10 people in May at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, local media reported.

At a hearing at Erie County Court, Payton Gendron, 19, pleaded guilty to 25 counts related to the shooting, which also left three people wounded. In June, he initially pleaded not guilty after a grand jury returned an indictment.

Gendron was accused of carrying out the attack, which also wounded three other people, with the intention of killing as many African Americans as he could.

What was the indictment?

"It was established beyond a reasonable doubt that he had this gruesome motive, that in just over two minutes he murdered as many African Americans as he could," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said at a press conference after the plea. "Justice has been done today."

 A man prays at a memorial at the scene of a weekend shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, U.S. May 19, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID/FILE PHOTO) A man prays at a memorial at the scene of a weekend shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, U.S. May 19, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID/FILE PHOTO)

Gendron, who was 18 at the time of the attack, initially pleaded not guilty after a grand jury returned an indictment in June.

He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole on the domestic terrorism charge alone. New York does not have a death penalty. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 15, according to media reports.

Gendron was the first defendant in New York ever to be indicted for a domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree.

He drove three hours from his home near Binghamton, New York, to the Tops Friendly Markets store in Buffalo after planning the attack for weeks, authorities said. He was looking for a public location in an area where many Black people lived.

At the supermarket, he shot 13 people with a semi-automatic, assault-style rifle. Eleven of the victims were Black.

Police say he left a racist manifesto online before the attack and live-streamed the shooting on social media.

A separate indictment returned in US District Court in July charged Gendron with 27 federal hate crimes and firearms offenses, for which he could face the death penalty if convicted.