NEWS -- June 17, 2022: On Wednesday Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, New York, has been charged with hate crimes resulting in death and hate crimes involving bodily injury and attempt to kill, use of a firearm to commit murder during
and in relation to a crime of violence, and use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division, United States Attorney for the Western District of New York Trini E. Ross, and FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate made the announcement.
The lawsuit alleges that on May 14, around 2:30 p.m., Gendron, a white guy, performed a mass shooting at the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, targeting Black persons. The mass shooting, which Gendron streamed live on the Internet, resulted in the deaths of ten African-Americans and the injuries of one African-American and two Caucasian victims. In addition, the lawsuit states that Gendron's motivation for the mass shooting was to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eradicating the white race, as well as to urge others to execute similar atrocities.
Gendron was equipped with a tactical helmet, camouflage gear, body armor, a GoPro video camera, a loaded Bushmaster XM-15.223 caliber rifle, and numerous loaded magazines at the time of the attack. After parking and leaving his vehicle, Gendron shot and killed three Black persons and injured a fourth Black person in the Tops' parking lot. Gendron then fired several shots through the store's front glass before entering and instantly shooting and killing two additional Black customers. Gendron and an armed Black security guard exchanged shots at the time. Gendron targeted and fatally shot the security man. After killing the security guard, Gendron turned and leveled his firearm at a white male Tops employee who had been shot in the leg and injured during the attack. Instead of shooting him, Gendron apologized to the employee. At some time during the assault, one of the bullets struck and injured a white female Tops employee working in the pharmacy section of the shop, which is near the checkout lanes. Gendron then walked through a checkout queue and shot and murdered a Black person before continuing through the store aisles and shooting and killing three more Black persons. Ultimately, Gendron returned to the front of the business, where personnel of the Buffalo Police Department arrested him.
When Gendron was arrested, officers recovered the weapon he used in the attack. On the weapon were written racist slurs, the slogan "Here's your reparations!" and "The Great Replacement." Approximately sixty bullets were fired by Gendron during the incident, according to investigators. After the attack, three loaded rifle magazines and two loaded weaponry, a 12-gauge shotgun and a bolt-action rifle, were recovered from Gendron's car.
Subsequent investigation revealed that in the months prior to the attack, Gendron wrote a self-described manifesto containing a detailed plan to shoot and kill Black people at Tops using a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle, a diagram of the interior layout of the store, a discussion of the clothing and equipment he would use during the attack, and statements that his motivation for the attack was to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race. Gendron also claimed that he chose the 14208 zip code because it has the biggest percentage of Black people near his home and that he chose the Tops store since it is where a large amount of Black people are located. The inquiry also revealed that Gendron visited Tops multiple times previous to the attack to scout the area, including on May 14, 2022, only two and a half hours before the attack.
The charges in the complaint carry a potential sentence of life in prison or the death penalty upon conviction. Gendron is in state jail pending the filing of state criminal charges.
The criminal complaint is the product of an investigation conducted by the FBI's Buffalo and Albany Field Offices, the Buffalo Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Buffalo Police Department, the New York State Police, and the Erie County Sheriff's Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph M. Tripi, Brendan T. Cullinane, and Brett A. Harvey of the Western District of New York and Trial Attorney Shan Patel of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.