BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Following the guilty plea on Monday from the man has now admitted to killing 10 people and injuring three others in a racist mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, lawyers who are representing family members of the victims spoke about their reactions to the plea.
Terry Connors and Ben Crump represent seven families who lost a loved one in the shooting as well as two individuals who were injured in the shooting.
Connors and Crump said they knew that this plea would happen three to four weeks before it happened on Monday. The court date was initially scheduled for November 21, but was pushed back a week due to weather.
“It didn’t come as a huge surprise because the evidence was overwhelming, but it’s a strategic move on their part. They hope to avoid the death penalty by demonstrating acceptance of responsibility,” Connors said.
Payton Gendron, 19, pleaded guilty to all state charges, which were one count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate, 10 counts of first degree murder, three counts of attempted murder as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon. He is also facing federal charges. If convicted of the federal charges, he could face the death penalty.
Crump noted that there was “no remorse” in Gendron’s voice as the proceedings went on.
“There was no remorse in his voice. As Attorney Connors and I noted, they had him clean-shaved and they talked about him as if he was a child. No. He’s a man who killed innocent people and we should treat him as such,” Crump said.
Connors added: “His voice is chilling. His voice is the voice of evil. The way he approached things and the way he said things, just nonchalant, almost like it was mechanical. It was chilling to me.”
The federal trial is still yet to begin, where Gendron is charged with the following:
- 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)
They said that the families of the victims will be consulted during the trial.
“That’s what I intend to tell Attorney General Merrick Garland and the head of the Civil Rights Department Kristen Clarke, that we need the full breadth and strength of the federal government to say, this is a hate crime and it needs to be treated with the most severe of consequences, even if that means death,” Crump said.
Crump said the families and what happened on May 14 will not be forgotten.
“We won’t let America forget about these families who were impacted in the Tops supermarket,” Crump said. “We’re not going to let them sweep it under the rug. Not today, not ever.”
You can watch the full segment above.
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.