Suspect in Buffalo Tops Supermarket Shooting Indicted on Federal Hate Crimes, as Store Reopens

“The Justice Department fully recognizes the threat that white supremacist violence poses to the safety of the American people and American democracy," Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said

tops supermarket buffalo
Photo: John Normile/Getty

The supermarket at the center of a deadly mass shooting in May that killed 10 Black people reopened Friday, following the federal indictment of the suspect.

The Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, New York was closed for months and extensively renovated following the May 14 massacre, ABC News reported.

The store was the area's sole supermarket in the predominantly Black community, the outlet reported. As seen in a photo published by the Associated Press, an update to the space includes a memorial with a poem by Jillian Hanesworth, the poet laureate of Buffalo.

The reopening of the store came one day after a federal grand jury returned a 27-count indictment charging the suspect, Payton Gendron, now 19, with "14 violations of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Shepard-Byrd Act) and 13 firearms offenses in connection with" the shooting, according to a release from the Department of Justice.

The indictment alleges that Gendron opened fire with a Bushmaster XM rifle and shot multiple people "in and around" the supermarket "on or about May 14" which killed 10 people and injured three others.

tops supermarket buffalo
John Normile/Getty

"The indictment charges that Gendron violated the Shepard-Byrd Act by willfully causing the death of the victims because of their actual and perceived race and color," the release said.

In full detail, the statement explained, "In total, the 27-count indictment charges Gendron with 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill three injured individuals, and one hate crimes count alleging that Gendron attempted to kill additional Black people in and around the Tops grocery store."

"The indictment also charges Gendron with 13 counts of using, carrying, or discharging a firearm in relation to the hate crimes, and seeks forfeiture of items, including the weapon used in the shooting," the DOJ continued. "The indictment further includes special findings alleging, among other things, that Gendron committed the offense after substantial planning and premeditation to commit an act of terrorism."

If convicted, the charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison or the death penalty. According to the release, the attorney general will decide at a later date whether or not to pursue the death penalty for the suspect.

A small vigil set up across the street from a Tops grocery store on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, where a heavily armed 18-year-old White man entered the store in a predominantly Black neighborhood and shot 13 people, killing ten, Saturday, May 14, 2022.
Matt Burkhartt for The Washington Post via Getty

"The Justice Department fully recognizes the threat that white supremacist violence poses to the safety of the American people and American democracy," Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement. "We will continue to be relentless in our efforts to combat hate crimes, to support the communities terrorized by them, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them."

The suspect remains in state custody "pending state criminal charges."

On June 1, Gendron 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 at the time.

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

On June 15, Gendron was charged with multiple federal counts 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.

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