BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The man accused of killing 10 people and injuring three others in a mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo pleaded guilty to multiple state charges against him on Monday morning.
This took place after the original date of Payton Gendron’s court appearance was postponed due to weather.
The shooting took place on May 14. The following month, Gendron, a 19-year-old resident of Broome County, was indicted on 25 charges:
- domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree
- murder in the first degree (10 counts)
- murder in the second degree, as a hate crime (10 counts)
- attempted murder in the second degree, as a hate crime (3 counts)
- criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, an armed felony
During the morning, he pleaded guilty to all charges except for the 10 counts of second-degree murder. Those second-degree murder charges are automatically dismissed due to Gendron’s admission to the first-degree murder charges.
(Above: Defense attorneys address members of the media following Gendron’s guilty pleas to state charges.)
Prior to Gendron’s indictment, no one in New York had ever been indicted on a charge of domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree before. This also makes Gendron the first person to be convicted of it.
During a conference that took place Monday morning, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn called Gendron’s plea “swift justice.”
As he spoke of every victim who was killed, Flynn noted that each one was murdered because of their race. Flynn says he wanted to make sure Gendron was tried in Erie County, saying it was more likely for the jury to be racially diverse, in comparison to somewhere like Cattaraugus County.
(Above: Erie County District Attorney John Flynn speaks following Gendron’s guilty pleas to state charges.)
“The motive here: Pure evil. Pure hate,” Brown said during the same conference.
During the morning, Brown called for a ban on assault weapons saying “there’s no reason” for Americans to have them. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, who spoke after Brown, also called for changes to gun laws.
(Above: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown spoke to the media following the Tops mass shooter’s court appearance. Below: Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia speaks at the same conference.)
In addition to the state charges, Gendron also faces federal charges detailed in a 26-count criminal complaint. If convicted in the federal case, he could be sentenced to death.
Here are the federal charges he faces:
- hate crime resulting in death (10 counts)
- hate crime involving bodily injury and attempt to kill (3 counts)
- use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence (10 counts)
- use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence (3 counts)
These are the names of those who were killed in the attack:
- Ruth Whitfield, 86
- Roberta Drury, 32
- Andre Mackneil, 53
- Aaron Salter, 55
- Heyward Patterson, 67
- Pearl Young, 77
- Katherine Massey, 72
- Margus Morrison, 52
- Geraldine Talley, 62
- Celestine Chaney, 65
Gendron will be sentenced on the state charges on February 15.
(Above: Erie County DA John Flynn, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia answer questions about the case against the Tops mass shooter.)
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Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter and anchor who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.