The white man accused of killing 10 black people at a supermarket in Buffalo appeared in court yesterday, standing silently during a brief proceeding attended by some relatives of the victims after a grand jury indicted him.
Payton Gendron (18) wore an orange jail uniform, a mask and handcuffs. As he was led out, someone shouted “Payton, you’re a coward” from the courtroom gallery. He is being held in jail without bail.
Assistant district attorney Gary Hackbush said the first-degree murder indictment, which covers all 10 deaths, was handed up on Wednesday.
Thirteen people in all were shot on Saturday at the Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly black neighbourhood of Buffalo. Authorities are continuing to investigate the possibility of hate crime and terrorism charges.
District attorney John Flynn said his office would not comment while the grand jury investigation continues.
Gendron’s lawyers also declined to comment, according to defence attorney Daniel DuBois. The victims’ family members who had attended the hearing left without immediately speaking to reporters.
Gendron livestreamed the attack from a helmet camera before surrendering to police outside the grocery store.
Shortly before the attack, he posted hundreds of pages of writings to online discussion groups where he detailed his plans for the assault and his racist motivation.
Investigators have been examining those documents, which included a private diary he kept on the chat platform Discord.
At Gendron’s initial court appearance last week, his court-appointed lawyer entered a plea of “not guilty” on his behalf. He is due back in court June 9.
The massacre at the Tops supermarket was unsettling even in a nation that has become almost numb to mass shootings.
All but two of the 13 people shot during the attack were black.
Gendron’s online writings said he planned the assault after becoming infatuated with white supremacist ideology he encountered online.
The diary said Gendron planned his attack in secret, with no outside help, but Discord confirmed on Wednesday that an invitation to access his private writings was sent to a small group of people about 30 minutes before the assault began.
Some of them accepted the invitation.
It was unclear how many read what he had written or logged on to view the assault live.
It also wasn’t clear whether anyone tried to alert law enforcement.
Buffalo police commissioner Joseph Gramaglia has said investigators were working to obtain, verify and review Gendron’s online postings.
New York governor Kathy Hochul has authorised the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, to investigate social media platforms used by Gendron to determine if they were liable for “providing a platform to plan and promote violence”.