The 18-year-old accused of killing 10 people and injuring three others in the mass shooting at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y, last month was arraigned Thursday on more than two-dozen counts, including domestic terrorism motivated by hate — a charge that carries a punishment of life in prison without parole.
The suspect, Payton Gendron, pleaded not guilty to the charges, but did not speak at the hearing. A lawyer entered the plea on his behalf.
Gendron was charged with 25 counts in all, including the domestic terrorism charge, 10 counts of first-degree murder; 10 counts of second-degree murder motivated by hate; and three counts of attempted murder motivated by hate.
All 10 of those killed in the May 14 massacre were Black.
Authorities say Gendron posted a manifesto online detailing his plans to target Buffalo’s Black population, driving nearly 300 miles from his home in Conklin, N.Y., with an AR-15-style rifle to carry out the attack at Tops Friendly Market, which he livestreamed with a helmet camera.
He surrendered to authorities at the scene.
The 180-page manifesto contained a litany of racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories, including the “great replacement” theory that people in power are replacing white Americans with people of color through immigration.
The baseless, once-fringe conspiracy theory has been echoed by numerous Republican politicians and right-wing media figures, including Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Speaking to reporters after the arraignment, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he could have simply charged Gendron with first-degree murder, but felt elevating it to a hate crime was important to the community and the 10 victims.
“He needs to be held accountable for all 10,” Flynn said.
The rampage in Buffalo, followed 10 days later by the deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, has reignited the national debate over gun control. President Biden is scheduled to address the topic from the White House on Thursday evening, when he is expected to call on Congress to pass legislation to curb gun violence.