Federal Grand Jury indicts accused Tops Shooter on federal hate crimes and firearms laws

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WHEC) – A federal grand jury today returned a 27-count indictment charging Payton Gendron, 19, of Conklin, New York, with 14 violations of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and 13 firearms offenses in connection with the mass shooting at the Tops grocery store on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo.

The indictment alleges that on or about May 14, 2022, Gendron opened fire with a Bushmaster XM rifle and shot multiple individuals in and around the Tops grocery store, which resulted in the deaths of 10 black people, as well as injury to three others. The indictment charges that Gendron violated the Shepard-Byrd Act by willfully causing the death of the victims because of their actual and perceived race and color.

In total, the 27-count indictment charges Gendron with 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill three injured individuals, and one hate crimes count alleging that Gendron attempted to kill additional black people in and around the Tops grocery store.

The indictment also charges Gendron with 13 counts of using, carrying, or discharging a firearm in relation to the hate crimes, and seeks forfeiture of items, including the weapon used in the shooting. The indictment further includes special findings alleging, among other things, that Gendron committed the offense after substantial planning and premeditation to commit an act of terrorism.

“Today, a grand jury has indicted Payton Gendron with hate crime and firearms offenses following the horrific attack on the black community of Buffalo that killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14, 2022,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The Justice Department fully recognizes the threat that white supremacist violence poses to the safety of the American people and American democracy. We will continue to be relentless in our efforts to combat hate crimes, to support the communities terrorized by them, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them.”

The charges in the indictment carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment or the death penalty. The Attorney General will decide whether to seek the death penalty at a later time.

Gendron is currently in state custody pending state criminal charges.