Gunman in racist mass shooting in Buffalo gets life in prison | News about racism

Peyton Gendron apologizes in court after admitting he ‘shot and killed people because they were black’.

A white racist who killed 10 black people in a US grocery store has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, after the victims’ relatives confronted him in court.

Anger briefly turned physical over the Payton Gendron ruling when a man in the audience lunged at him. The man is quickly restrained; prosecutors later said he would not be charged. The proceedings then continued with more emotional outpourings from people who had lost loved ones or were themselves wounded in the attack.

The May 2022 shooting was premeditated, with Gendron scouting a predominantly black neighborhood three hours from his home, charting grocery store layouts and issuing a self-described manifesto on preserving white supremacy in the United States.

Gendron, whose hatred was fueled by racist conspiracy theories he encountered online, wept during some of the testimony and apologized to the victims and their families in a brief statement.

Some condemned him angrily; others quoted from the Bible or said they were praying for him. Several pointed out that he deliberately attacked the black community far from his almost all-white hometown.

Monument in front of the Tops store
A man kneels at a memorial in 2022 outside the Tops store, where 10 people were killed in a mass shooting [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

“You don’t know anything about black people. We are people. We like our children to go to good schools. We love our children,” said Barbara Massey Mapps, whose sister Katherine was killed in the attack.

As she spoke, a man rushed towards Gendron. “You don’t know what we’re going through,” he shouted as he was led away by court officials.

In his short statement, Gendron admitted that he “shot and killed people because they were black”.

“I believed what I read on the Internet and I acted out of hate, and now I can’t take it back, but I wish I could and I don’t want anyone to be inspired by me,” he said as a woman in the courtroom audience stood up, screamed that “we don’t need” his remarks and stormed out.

There were only three survivors among the 13 people he shot as he specifically sought out black shoppers and workers.

Gendron pleaded guilty in November to first-degree murder and “domestic terrorism motivated by hate,” a charge that carried an automatic life sentence.

“There was nothing rash or thoughtless about your behavior. There are no mitigating factors to consider,” Erie County District Court Judge Susan Eagan told the defendant.

Gendron received separate, concurrent life sentences – one for each victim. Jando was denied the status of a young offender, which would have given him the possibility of re-entering society. He was 18 at the time of the mass shooting.

Gendron also faced separate federal charges that could lead to the death penalty if sought by the U.S. Department of Justice. His defense attorneys said in December that Gendron was willing to plead guilty in federal court to avoid the death penalty.

Gendron is the first defendant in New York to be charged with domestic hate terrorism in the first degree under the Josef Neumann Domestic Terrorism Hate Crimes Act, a state law passed in November 2020.

The law is named after a rabbi who was killed in a home invasion during the Hanukkah holiday by an anti-Semitic gunman, and cites the fact that crimes “based on bias and prejudice have become more prevalent” in recent years.

“Hate crimes are more than a threat to the safety and well-being of all citizens,” the law states. “They inflict incalculable physical and emotional harm on their victims and tear apart the very fabric of a free society.”

At the sentencing hearing, Gendron could be seen crying as he heard the testimony. One store employee, Christopher Braden, described being shot in the leg and seeing other victims on the floor around him.

“The visions haunt me in my sleep and every day,” Braden told the court.

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