Buffalo Supermarket Shooting Suspect Pleads Guilty to Murder

People stand in the parking lot of the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (Reuters/AP) — An avowed white supremacist pleaded guilty on Monday to first-degree murder and other state charges in a mass shooting that killed 10 people in May at a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, prosecutors said.

At a hearing at Erie County Court, Payton Gendron, 19, pleaded guilty to multiple counts related to the shooting, which also left three people wounded. In June, he initially pleaded not guilty after a grand jury returned an indictment.

Gendron, from Conklin, New York, was initially charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 10 counts of second-degree murder, all of them as hate crimes.

The grand jury indictment, which included a charge of domestic terrorism motivated by hate, accused Gendron of carrying out the attack based on the perceived race of his victims.

He faces a sentence of life in prison without parole. New York does not have a death penalty.

Gendron, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, drove three hours from his home near Binghamton, New York, to the Tops Friendly Markets store in Buffalo, authorities said. He was looking for a public location in an area where many black people lived.

At the supermarket, he shot 13 people with a semi-automatic, assault-style rifle. Eleven of the victims were black. Those killed ranged in age from 32 to 86.

Shortly before opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle on May 14, he posted documents that outlined his white supremacist views and revealed that he had been planning the attack for months. Inside the store, he roamed the aisles and livestreamed the attack from a helmet-mounted camera as he shot store employees and shoppers.

He was arrested in the parking lot upon exiting through the store’s front entrance.

The supermarket was closed for two months.

Terrence Connors, an attorney for relatives of seven of the dead and two surviving victims, said earlier that Gendron had no plea agreement with prosecutors.

Gendron was the first defendant in New York ever to be indicted for a domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree.

A separate indictment returned in U.S. District Court in July charged Gendron with 27 federal hate crimes and firearms offenses, for which he could face the death penalty if convicted.

The U.S. Justice Department has not said whether it would seek capital punishment.

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