The white teenager accused of killing 10 black people at a Buffalo, New York supermarket appeared briefly in court on Thursday, after a grand jury indicted him on a first-degree murder charge. Assistant district attorney Gary Hackbush said the indictment of the suspect, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, was handed up Wednesday. At his initial court appearance last week, the suspect’s court-appointed lawyer entered a plea of “not guilty” on his behalf.
Gendron, wearing orange clothing and mask, was silent throughout the proceeding and sent back to jail. In New York, prosecutors can charge a defendant with first-degree murder only under special circumstances, which includes multiple people being killed in one single incident. Thirteen people were shot Saturday at the Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo. Authorities are continuing to investigate the possibility of hate crime and terrorism charges.
Gendron live-streamed the attack from a helmet camera before surrendering to police outside the grocery store. Prior to the deadly attack, he had posted hundreds of pages of writings to online discussion groups where he detailed his plans for the assault and his racist motivation. Investigators have been examining those documents, which included a private diary he kept on the chat platform Discord. The accused gunman’s online writings said he planned the assault after becoming infatuated with white supremacist ideology he encountered online. Discord confirmed Wednesday that an invitation to access his private writings was sent to a small group of people about 30 minutes before the assault began, but it remains unclear how many read what he had written or logged on to view the assault live. It also unclear whether anyone tried to alert law enforcement.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has authorized the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, to investigate social media platforms used by the suspect to determine if they were liable for “providing a platform to plan and promote violence.”
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