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Buffalo Grocery Store Shooter Said ‘Sorry’ to White Victim He Shot During Hate Crime Massacre of Black Shoppers: Feds

Payton Gendron appeared before a New York State judge at the Erie County Courthouse on May 19, 2022 in Buffalo. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.)

Payton Gendron appeared before a New York State judge at the Erie County Courthouse on May 19, 2022 in Buffalo. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.)

The man accused of a racist attack on a Buffalo, New York grocery store was hit with multiple federal charges on Wednesday, according to court documents obtained by Law&Crime.

The documents say Payton S. Gendron, 18, of Conklin, New York, is now charged with 26 new counts. The charges include 10 allegations that Gendron committed a hate crime resulting in death, three counts of a hate crime involving bodily injury and attempt to kill, 10 counts of the use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence, and three counts of the use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

An FBI agent’s affidavit explains how the shooting began:

On May 14, 2022, at approximately 2:30 p.m., GENDRON – an 18-year-old white male from Conklin, New York – committed a mass shooting attack targeting Black people at Tops Friendly Market at 1275 Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, New York (“Tops”). The mass shooting, which GENDRON live-streamed on the Internet, resulted in the deaths of 10 Black people, and non-fatal gunshot wounds to one (1) Black person and two (2) Caucasian people. 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.

The affidavit then lays out what appears to be the most complex factual narrative of what happened during the shooting spree that has thus far appeared in any court document connected to the massacre:

At the time of the attack, GENDRON arrived at Tops in a blue Ford Taurus (“Taurus”), drove to the front of the store, and came to a stop. He emerged from the car wearing a tactical-style helmet, camouflage clothing, body armor, and a GoPro video camera, and carrying a loaded Bushmaster XM-15 .223 caliber rifle and multiple loaded magazines. After exiting the Taurus, GENDRON aimed the rifle at a Black person (“Victim 1”) walking in the parking lot and shot and killed Victim 1. GENDRON immediately started shooting at other Black people in the parking lot and near the entrance to Tops. During this rapid succession of shots, GENDRON shot and injured one Black person (“Victim 2”) and shot and killed two Black people (“Victim 3” and “Victim 4”). A Black security guard, who had been standing near Victims 2 and 3, retreated inside the store. After GENDRON shot Victim 4, he fired several shots through the front window of the store and went to the entrance. As he approached the entrance, he shot Victim 3 again while Victim 3 was on the ground to ensure that Victim 3 was dead. Victim 2, who was lying motionless on the ground near Victim 3, survived and was able to flee the scene after GENDRON entered the store.

The affidavit alleges that Gendron said he was “sorry” to a white victim he apparently shot accidentally, according to the feds. Again, from the document itself:

After shooting the first four victims, killing three of them, GENDRON entered the store, and immediately shot and killed two more Black people (“Victim 5” and “Victim 6”), who were on the ground. At that time, GENDRON and the armed Black security guard (“Victim 7”) exchanged gunfire; GENDRON aimed at, shot, and killed Victim 7.

After GENDRON killed Victim 7, he turned and aimed his rifle at a white male Tops employee (“Victim 8”), who, at some point during the attack, had been shot in the leg and injured. Rather than shooting him, GENDRON said, “sorry,” to Victim 8, before moving on through the rest of the store in search of more Black people to shoot and kill. At some point during the attack, one of the shots also struck a white female Tops employee (“Victim 9”) in the pharmacy area of the store, which is located near the checkout lanes. Victims 8 and 9 survived the attack.

Next, GENDRON walked through the store’s checkout lane, and shot and killed a Black person (“Victim 10”), who was in that area. GENDRON then moved through the aisles of the store and shot and killed three additional Black people (“Victim 11”, “Victim 12”, and “Victim 13”). GENDRON, still armed with the rifle, ultimately returned to the front of the store.

The affidavit further alleges that Gendron’s rifle contained “various writings” which included “the names of others who have committed mass shootings, racial slurs, the statement ‘Here’s your reparations!,’ and the phrase ‘The Great Replacement.'” The latter is an apparent reference to the racist conspiracy theory that global elites are trying to replace whites voters with people of color in order to shift electoral patterns.

Gendron is alleged to have fired approximately 60 bullets during the attack, the affidavit says.

The document also alleges that Gendron stashed a “loaded 12-gauge shotgun, a loaded bolt-action rifle, and three loaded rifle magazines” in his Ford Taurus while he was using his Bushmaster XM-15 to commit the mass murders.

A mugshot released by the Erie County District Attorney's Office shows Payton S. Gendron, 18, who is accused of killing ten people in a Buffalo, New York grocery store on Sat., May 14, 2022.

A mugshot released by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office shows Payton S. Gendron, 18, who is accused of killing ten people in a Buffalo, New York grocery store on Sat., May 14, 2022.

The feds further allege that Gendron left a “handwritten note” in his bedroom in Conklin. In the note, Gendron allegedly “apologized to his family for committing ‘this attack’ and stated that he ‘had to commit this attack’ because he cares ‘for the future of the White race,'” according to the affidavit.

Federal agents recovered the document during a search of Gendron’s home pursuant to a warrant, the affidavit notes.

In Gendron’s bedroom, federal agents say they also found a March 8 receipt that documented the purchase of a candy bar from the Tops market where the shooting eventually occurred on May 14. (Employees at the store have said in television interviews that they recognized Gendron as having taunted them in the past; Gendron lived more than three hours from the store.)

Further recovered from Gendron’s bedroom were “handwritten sketches of what appear to be the interior layout of the Tops,” the affidavit states.

Also cited in the document are voluminous references for what the FBI called Gendron’s “self-described manifesto.” That document — recovered from the internet — was similar to draft documents recovered from Gendron’s computer, according to the affidavit.

In the “manifesto,” Gendron wrote he planned to be the “sole perpetrator” of the shooting, that his goal was to “Kill as many blacks as possible” while trying to “Avoid dying,” and that Blacks were “an obvious, visible, and large group of replacers . . . that seek to occupy my peoples [sic] lands and ethnically replace my own people.”  Gendron allegedly wrote that he selected the Tops grocery store in Buffalo because “it is where a high percentage and high density of Black people can be found.”

The affidavit later says Gendron visited the Tops store “at least three times” on March 8, visited again on May 13 (the day before the attack), and conducted reconnaissance at least once prior to the attack on May 14. During that latter visit — around noon on May 14 — Gendron allegedly “noted where the security guard was positioned.”

He started shooting about two and a half hours later, the document asserts.

Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, NY via WGRZ

(Image via WGRZ-TV screengrab.)

Aside from Wednesday’s federal criminal complaint, Gendron also faces a 25-count indictment on state-level charges. Those charges include domestic terrorism, first-degree murder, second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, and weapons possession.  Several of the charges include hate crimes and other enhancers.  Gendron pleaded not guilty to all of the charges he faces in a state court in Erie County, New York.

The victims who died in the shooting have been identified as Buffalo residents Roberta A. Drury, 32; Margus D. Morrison, 52; Geraldine Talley, 62; Celestine Chaney, 65; Heyward Patterson, 67; Katherine Massey, 72; Pearl Young, 77; and Ruth Whitfield, 86.  Also killed in the massacre were Andre Mackniel, 53, of Auburn, New York, and Aaron Salter, 55, of Lockport, New York.

Victims Zaire Goodman, 20, of Buffalo, and Jennifer Warrington, 50, of Tonawanda, New York, were reportedly treated and released from the hospital.  Christopher Braden, 55, of Lackawanna, New York, was said to have suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Attorney General Merrick Garland heralded the charges against Gendron during a speech in Buffalo on Wednesday.

“We fully recognize the threat that hatred and violent extremism pose to the safety of the American people and American democracy,” Garland said.  “We will be relentless in our efforts to combat hate crimes, to support the communities terrorized by them, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them.”

“No one in this country should have to live in fear that they will go to work or shop at the grocery store, and they will be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin, someone who commits that act because he subscribes to the vile theory that only people like him belong in this country,” the attorney general continued.  “And no one in this country should have to bury a loved one because of such hate.”

Garland further said he was “humbled” to have “witnessed the strength of this community’s bonds” during his meetings with the families of the victims.

The full federal criminal complaint from U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York is below:

[Editor’s note: this report has been updated to include quotes from and references to the Attorney General’s speech.]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.