Buffalo grocery store mass shooter pleads guilty to murder and terrorism charges

By Mark Morales, Eric Levenson and Elizabeth Wolfe, CNNUpdated: Mon, 28 Nov 2022 15:58:11 GMTSource: CNNThe man accused of killing 10 people and injuring more than a dozen at a grocery store in a pred

By Mark Morales, Eric Levenson and Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN

Updated: Mon, 28 Nov 2022 15:58:11 GMT

Source: CNN

The man accused of killing 10 people and injuring more than a dozen at a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, pleaded guilty Monday to state charges of murder, domestic terrorism, and attempted murder as a hate crime.

Payton Gendron, a 19-year-old White man, pleaded guilty Monday to domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate, murder in the first degree, attempted murder in the second degree as a hate crime and a weapons possession charge.

He only spoke in court to answer yes when asked if he understood the charges, and to plead guilty. He also spoke to answer questions about his education.

The hearing was originally scheduled for last Monday but was postponed due to a snowstorm in the Buffalo area.

Gendron is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime and three counts of attempted murder as a hate crime, according to the indictment. He also faces a domestic terror charge and a weapons charge, the indictment shows.

After the hearing, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn and Gendron's attorney are expected to address the media.

Investigators believe Gendron targeted the victims, ages 20-86, based on race. Authorities have said he traveled from hours away to carry out the attack on May 14 at the Tops Friendly Markets, which is in a predominantly Black community. Eleven of the 13 people shot were Black and two were White, officials said.

If convicted on the state charges, Gendron faces life in prison without parole, the only sentence for the domestic terror charge, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said in June. To use this charge, prosecutors must prove five or more individuals were murdered with the intent of racial motivation, he added.

When reached by CNN earlier this month, the suspect's attorney, Dan DuBois, was not permitted to comment because of a gag order in the case, he said. The Erie County District Attorney's Office, which is prosecuting the case, is also under a gag order and declined to comment at the time.

"This is a remarkable group of families that I speak for," Terrence Connors, who represents the families of seven people who were killed in the shooting and two who were injured, said when announcing the suspect's plan to plead guilty. "The tragedy is still heavy in their hearts, but they've turned this nightmare into positive action. From their standpoint, he has become irrelevant to their lives. Their lives have become about making something positive from this horrible tragedy."

The suspect also faces multiple federal hate crime charges, which carry the potential for the death penalty, in addition to several firearms charges.

Federal prosecutors argue the alleged gunman's motive was to "prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks," according to a criminal complaint.

Gendron has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said following the attack that the AR-15 style rifle used in the shooting was legally purchased in New York State, but was modified with a high-capacity magazine, which is not legal in the state.