Buffalo Mass Shooting Suspect Charged with Federal Hate Crimes in Attack That Killed 10 Black People

Authorities say the May 14 attack at Tops Friendly Market, in a predominantly Black section of Buffalo, was motivated by racist hate

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock (12940819d) Police officer walks near the scene of a shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, N.Y Supermarket Shooting, Buffalo, United States - 15 May 2022
The scene outside Tops Supermarket Saturday. Photo: Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock

The suspect in last month's mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store that killed 10 Black people has been charged with multiple hate crimes, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Peyton Gendron, 18, faces charges including hate crimes resulting in death, hate crimes involving bodily injury and attempt to kill, use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence and use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, according to a DOJ release.

Authorities say the May 14 attack at Tops Friendly Market, in a predominantly Black section of Buffalo, was motivated by racist hate. The suspect allegedly livestreamed the attack. In addition to the 10 people killed, three were injured. All told, 11 of the 13 people shot were Black, authorities have said.

In the DOJ release, authorities said the suspect's "motivation for the attack was to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race."

In the months before the attack, the suspect allegedly wrote a "self-described manifesto" detailing his plan. According to authorities, the document revealed the suspect "selected the zip code 14208 because it has the highest percentage of Black people close enough to where he lives and that he selected the Tops store because it is where a large number of Black people can be found."

kat Massey, Pearl Young, Aaron Salter, Jr victims of the Buffalo mass shooting
Katherine Massey, Aaron Salter, Jr., Pearl Young. courtesy

During the attack, the suspect allegedly aimed his rifle at a white supermarket employee, the criminal complaint against him states. "Rather than shooting him, [the suspect] said, 'sorry,' to Victim 8, before moving on through the rest of the store in search of more Black people to shoot and kill," the complaint states.

It was not immediately clear if the suspect had entered a plea to the federal charges.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland met with victims' family members in Buffalo today. In remarks afterward released by the DOJ, Garland said, "No one in this country should have to live in fear that they will go to work or shop at the grocery store, and they will be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin, someone who commits that act because he subscribes to the vile theory that only people like him belong in this country."

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If convicted, the suspect is eligible for the death penalty, according to the release, though there is currently a moratorium on federal executions, The New York Times reports.

A memorial across the street from Tops Friendly Market at Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in Buffalo, NY. The Supermarket was the site of a fatal shooting of 10 people at a grocery store in a historically Black neighborhood of Buffalo by a young white gunman is being investigated as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism, according to federal officials.
A memorial across the street from Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, NY. Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty

CNN reports that Garland, when asked Wednesday if the death penalty would be considered for the suspect, said, "The Justice Department has a series of procedures it follows ... The families and the survivors would be consulted."

On June 1, the suspect was indicted on 25 counts including first-degree murder and second-degree murder as a hate crime, domestic terrorism and other charges. His attorney for the state charges, Daniel Dubois, did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

CNN reports that the suspect pleaded not guilty to the state charges.

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