U.S. federal prosecutors have announced that they’ll be seeking the death penalty for Payton Gendron, the white supremacist who killed ten black people at a Buffalo supermarket last year. Gendron was initially sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to crimes of murder and domestic terrorism.
When prosecutors announced their decision for the death penalty, they said Gendron’s motivation was to “maximize” the death of Black people. Relatives of the victims have now expressed mixed views on the extent of Gendron’s punishment, with one saying they’d prefer a life imprisonment sentence.
U.S. Prosecutors Will Seek The Death Penalty Against Buffalo Supermarket Shooter
New court filings have revealed that U.S. federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Payton Gendron. Gendron is the white supremacist shooter who killed ten black people shopping at a Buffalo supermarket in upstate New York on May 14th, 2022.
Per The Guardian, Gendron was 19 years old when he carried out federal hate crimes on innocent shoppers, a security guard, and a deacon who used to transport people to and fro the supermarket. He used a semi-automatic gun, which was marked with racial slurs and phrases like “The Great Replacement.” The phrase is a reference to a conspiracy theory that posits that the influence of white people is being deliberately diminished.
In February 2023, he was sentenced to life in prison after an emotional hearing where relatives of the victims poured out their anger and pain at his actions and the impact on their lives. The sentencing hearing was disrupted after a member of the audience charged at him.
Payton Gendron Pleaded Guilty In 2022
BREAKING: Payton Gendron, the Buffalo supermarket gunman and white supremacist who killed 10 Black people and is now serving life in prison, will now face the death penalty in a federal hate crimes case.
New York State doesn’t have the death penalty but since this is a federal… pic.twitter.com/3Sdke16j4k
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) January 12, 2024
In November 2022, Gendron pleaded guilty to a range of charges for his crimes. They include multiple counts of murder and domestic terrorism motivated by hate, which carries an automatic life sentence. New York ordinarily doesn’t carry capital punishment, but its Justice Department can decide to seek the death penalty for federal hate crimes cases.
When Gendron pleaded guilty, he made the decision only if prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against him. Seeking the death penalty has been a rare instance since Joe Biden became the president as he’s a known Democrat who publicly opposes capital punishment.
Gendron’s case is one of the first instances where Merrick Garland, the U.S. attorney general, agreed to pursue the death penalty against an accused. During his tenure so far, he’s permitted the continuation of only two capital sentence prosecutions and withdrawn approval in over two dozen cases.
Payton Gendron Wanted To Kill Many Black People
When prosecutors announced their decision to seek the death penalty, they released a statement on the case and the factors that led to the decision. Trini Ross, the U.S. attorney for Western New York, stated that Gendron had chosen the Buffalo supermarket because he wanted “to maximize the number of Black victims.”
The statement also revealed the various factors the prosecutors considered, including his extensive planning before the shooting. They also stated that Gendron decided to target multiple victims who were “particularly vulnerable due to old age and infirmity.” Buffalo is an old rust belt city that’s the third poorest in America and the sixth-most segregated city.
The supermarket and the city area have a significant black population, with black people accounting for 34% of its 255,000 population. According to a 2021 report by the University of Buffalo Center for Urban Studies, the majority of black people live on the east side of the city.
Relatives Shared Their Opinion On Payton Gendron’s Punishment
BREAKING: The Justice Department
will pursue the death penalty against Payton Gendron, the man found guilty of killing 10 Black people in a racially motivated shooting at a Tops Supermarket in Buffalo.
In February 2023, Judge Egan sentenced Gendron on his state charges to life… pic.twitter.com/rcbmMsY9fv
— Jackie Napier (@TheJackieNapier) January 12, 2024
Relatives of Gendron’s victims from the shooting shared their opinion on the extent of his punishment and whether prosecutors should pursue the death penalty. After a meeting with the prosecution shortly before a hearing on Friday, Mark Talley, son to 63-year-old Geraldine Talley, one of Gendron’s victims, spoke to the press.
He said, per AP News, “I’m not necessarily disappointed in the decision … It would have satisfied me more knowing he would have spent the rest of his life in prison being surrounded by the population of people he tried to kill.”
Several attorneys for some of the relatives also released a joint statement approving the decision to seek the death penalty. It read that the decision will provide a “pathway to both relief and a measure of closure for the victims and their families.”