BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Some family members of the victims of the racist mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue said they wanted the gunman to feel their pain.

Several speakers addressed the court on Wednesday before the defendant, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He pleaded guilty to all New York State charges. Judge Susan Eagan says he will never be a free man again.

Family members faced the shooter in person saying they wanted Gendron to know their loved ones before he went behind bars forever. Despite the maximum sentence being imposed, families are still looking for justice.

“I want to choke him until my fingerprints was left on his neck. I don’t understand. I can’t understand nobody hating somebody that you don’t know,” Barbara Massey Mapps, sister of Katherine Massey, said.

Thirteen people spoke before the court. The emotion was still raw just nine months after the attack.

Deja Brown, daughter of Andre Mackniel Sr., spoke on behalf of her family. Mackniel was at Tops on May 14 picking up a birthday cake for his 3-year-old son. After the sentencing, Brown said she doesn’t feel the gunman was sincere in his actions or apology in court.

“I just wanted him to feel me. I really didn’t care how he was feeling or what face he was making. I just wanted him to feel the words that were coming from me,” Brown said.

Mapps was highly emotional in court. She says her impact statement was inspired by a final letter written by her sister Katherine before she was killed.

“Right before she ended her letter, she said ‘Barbara be tough’,” Mapps explained.

Many family members say the sentence wasn’t enough because it will never bring their loved ones back.

“There’s nothing that’s enough,” Brown said.

“I want him to have the death penalty [in the federal case]. I don’t see wasting another dollar on him. He doesn’t care. He only made that statement because we have to go to federal [court] next. I don’t feel that he could care less,” Mapps said.

Gendron is expected to appear in federal court on Thursday. The federal government has not decided if it will pursue the death penalty in this case yet.

Tiara Johnson was working at Tops on May 14 and was preparing to celebrate her college graduation from Canisius. She says she hid while the unthinkable happened.

“I reached over to my left and opened the door that led into the bottle room. I dragged my body across the floor in the bottle room until I got into the corner and I heard everything,” Johnson said.

Attorney John Elmore represents the Mackniel and Massey families. He hosted a press conference with his clients and Adam Skaggs from the Giffords Law Center following the sentencing Wednesday afternoon.

“America needs to wake up,” Elmore said. “There are terrorists that are home grown in America that are radicalized…and influenced to commit terrorist acts on this country because of social media.”

Elmore wants to hold social media platforms and the gun manufacturers accountable, saying the racist mass shooter didn’t do this alone.

Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.