A federal grand jury returned a 27-count indictment against the 19-year-old accused of murdering ten people in a racially-motivated attack at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York. All ten of the deceased victims were Black.
Payton Gendron was charged with 14 violations of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and 13 firearms offenses. The Justice Department said that Attorney General Merrick Garland will determine whether to seek the death penalty against the teen.
If Garland declines to pursue the death penalty, Gendron will face life in prison if convicted.
Gendron, who was 18 at the time of the mass shooting, is an avowed white supremacist and scrawled racist messages on his Bushmaster XM rifle. He allegedly planned the attack for weeks and targeted the store, which was three hours from his hometown, because most of the customers were Black.
“Today, a grand jury has indicted Payton Gendron with hate crime and firearms offenses following the horrific attack on the Black community of Buffalo that killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14, 2022,” Garland said in a statement. “The Justice Department fully recognizes the threat that white supremacist violence poses to the safety of the American people and American democracy. 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.”