Payton Gendron, the white gunman who is being charged with killing 10 Black people in a racist mass shooting at a Buffalo Tops supermarket in May, pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges on Monday. He may be facing the death penalty. Gendron was indicted last week on hate crimes and weapons counts.
The 27-count federal indictment has special findings which ascertain that Gendron planned to commit an act of terrorism for months and targeted elderly people including 67-year-old Heyward Patterson, 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, 72-year-old Katherine Massey, 77-year-old Pearl Young and 65-year-old Celestine Chaney.
Wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles, Gendron remained quiet during the arraignment. The not guilty plea was entered in court by the defendant’s lawyer who shared that she wanted to resolve the case before trial.
Attorney General Merrick Garland had put a stop to federal executions last year. However, he has not ruled out seeking the death penalty against the defendant. Garland went to Buffalo to visit with the families of the shooting last month. The Tops store where the massacre occurred reopened last week.
The federal indictment charges the defendant with 10 counts of hate crimes that resulted in death, three counts of hate crimes attempting to kill three people and another hate crime count that claims he tried to kill other Black people in and near the store. The indictment also includes 13 counts of using a firearm in a hate crime.
In addition, Gendron also faces state prosecution on charges including: murder attempted murder as a hate crime and hate-motivated domestic terrorism. The domestic terrorism hate crime charge have an automatic life sentence. The defendant pleaded not guilty to those charges.