BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Payton Gendron, the man responsible for the racist mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue on May 14, 2022, apologized to the families of the victims at his sentencing on Wednesday morning.
Following several impact statements from family members, the 19-year-old Gendron leaned over a microphone and made a brief, seemingly prepared statement:
“I’m very sorry for the pain I’ve forced on the victims and their families to suffer through. I’m very sorry for stealing the lives of your loved ones. I cannot express how much I regret all the decisions I made that led up to my actions on May 14,” Gendron said. “I did a terrible thing that day. I shot and killed people because they were Black. Looking back now, I can’t believe I actually did it. I believed what I read online and acted out of hate and now I can’t take it back, but I wish I could. I don’t want anyone to be inspired by me and what I did.”
Gendron did not show any apparent emotion while he made the statement. Immediately after he finished speaking, a family member could be heard yelling, in part, “You don’t mean any of that s—. F— out of here!”
Before the proceedings, some said that any apology that came from Gendron would be insincere and an attempt to avoid the death penalty in his federal hearing.
“I anticipate that the reason why he said what he said today was to save his life in federal court,” Erie County DA John Flynn said. “That’s probably the only reason why he said it… to me, it was not heartfelt at all.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown added, “What the defendant had to say today, to me, is much too little much too late.”
Before the district attorney’s press conference, one of his shooter’s lawyers, Brian Parker, also spoke.
“Our client is responsible for this crime. He will spend the rest of his life locked away and eventually, he will die in state prison. We hope that knowing he will never be free again will offer some small bit of comfort to those that he hurt so much,” he said in part.
Gendron was sentenced to a total of 11 life sentences without the possibility of parole on the state charges against him, which include domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate and 10 counts of first-degree murder. An additional 90 years was placed on his sentences for three counts of attempted murder, as well as criminal possession of a weapon. Further federal charges against him may result in the death penalty.
Earlier in the sentencing hearing, a man lunged at Gendron during victim impact statements, forcing a delay in the proceedings that lasted approximately 10 minutes.
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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.