Suspect in Buffalo mass shooting to be charged Thursday with 25 counts including murder

Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old charged in last month’s racist shooting at a convenience store in Buffalo, New York, that killed 10 people, is scheduled to be charged on June 2, a spokesman for the Erie prosecutor’s office said County. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Mark Morales, CNN

(CNN) — The 18-year-old charged in last month’s racist shooting at a convenience store in Buffalo, New York, which killed 10 people, is scheduled to be charged Thursday afternoon, a spokesman for the Erie prosecutor’s office said County.

A grand jury indicted Payton Gendron on 25 counts Wednesday, a law enforcement official said.

The shooting suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder hate crimes, and three counts of attempted murder hate crimes, according to court documents. He also faces domestic terror charges and a gun possession charge, the documents show.

Authorities claim ample evidence indicates the white teen was motivated by race and that he targeted a supermarket in a predominantly black community.

He is scheduled to be arraigned in Erie County District Court at 2 p.m. ET, said Kaitlyn Munro, spokeswoman for the county’s attorney’s office.

The teenager was placed on suicide watch after his arrest, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said.

Officer: “No fault, it’s a hate crime.”

Eleven of the thirteen victims at Tops Friendly Markets were black and two were white, officials said. Among the victims, ranging in age from 20 to 86, were a heroic former police officer who tried to stop the gunman, as well as a longtime substitute teacher and a taxi driver who, according to his nephew, “prouded himself in helping people”.

More federal charges could be filed as authorities investigate the shooting as both a hate crime and a racial violent extremism case, said Stephen Belongia, FBI special agent in charge of the Buffalo field office.

Gendron arrived at the market in the middle of the afternoon on May 14, “very heavily armed” and with tactical gear, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. He also had a camera and broadcast his killing spree live, the commissioner said.

He allegedly opened fire in the store’s parking lot and shot four people dead before entering the store, where he killed the former police officer who worked as a security guard said Gramaglia. Gendron then shot dead eight other people inside the store before surrendering to police, the commissioner claimed.

During his arrest the suspect made disturbing statements describing his motive and mental state, including confirming he was targeting the black community, according to an official familiar with the investigation.

“The evidence we have uncovered so far leaves no doubt that this is an outright racist hate crime,” Gramaglia said. “That’s someone who has hatred in their heart, soul and mind.”

Garcia described the shooting as “pure evil,” adding that it was “a simple racially motivated hate crime.”

Documents indicate intent

In a 180-page document said to have been written by the suspect and posted online before the shooting, the author describes himself as a fascist, white supremacist and anti-Semite and writes that white Americans are being “replaced” by people of other races.

The document obtained by CNN also includes up-to-the-minute details of the alleged deadly plan, including a color-coded map of the store and the gear and clothing he intended to use – from military-style body armor to his brand of underwear. It also spells out how the author intends to “shoot all black people.”

The suspect visited the store in March and again the day before the shooting to gather information about the location, officials said.

Further investigation revealed that Gendron made a “general threat” while he attended Susquehanna Valley Central High School last year, and state police visited him after he conducted a school homicide-suicide project, officials said.

“State police arrived at his home at this time last year,” Garcia said. “He stayed in a facility for a day and a half – I’m not sure if it was a hospital or a psychiatric facility.”

The suspect planned to continue his killing spree behind the supermarket, Gramaglia said, adding there were documents showing he was allegedly planning to attack “another large supermarket”.

In social media posts, Gendron wrote that research online led him to target the 14208 ZIP code because it has a higher black population than other locations he considered.

He also says he thought about attacking a church or an elementary school, but decided on the supermarket because a lot of people frequent grocery stores. He used Google’s popular Times feature for Tops Friendly Market to determine the busiest time of day to hit the store, the posts show.

The CNN Wire
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