The Department of Justice charged the white gunman with federal hate crime charges. At the same time, Attorney General Merrick Garland arrived at the site of the mass shooting today, as CNN reported. 13 people were shot in total, while the lives of ten Black people were tragically lost. Alleged shooter Payton S. Gendron was charged with 26 counts, three of which carry death penalty charges.
“Gendron’s motive for the mass shooting was to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks,” according to the criminal complaint filed in the Western District of New York
These charges originate partly from documents where Gentron laid out his plan, as the Associated Press notes. Among the total charges are ten counts of a hate crime resulting in death, three counts of hate crime involving bodily injury, and ten counts of using a firearm to commit murder during and concerning a violent crime. Previously, the alleged shooter faced a 25-count indictment given by a grand jury in New York.
Garland met with family members of the victims privately today and said the following, denouncing racially motivated terrorism.
“No one in this country should have to live in fear that they will go to work or shop at a grocery store and will be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin,” Garland said after meeting with family members.
The three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a violent crime are the charges to look at with death penalty implications if a conviction is reached. As CNN notes, Garland placed a temporary hold on federal executions while the department reviews policies and procedures.
When asked if the DOJ would seek the death penalty if the suspect were found guilty, Garland stated, “the Justice Department has a series of procedures it follows ... The families and the survivors would be consulted.”