Self-proclaimed racist and white supremacist Payton Gendron was heckled and branded a “coward” in court Thursday morning as a grand jury indicted him for the mass murder of 10 Black people.
Payton Gendron, 18, appeared in Erie County court for a felony hearing on first-degree murder charges, attended by devastated family members of some of his victims.
As he was being escorted out of court after the brief hearing, one of the relatives yelled at him, “Payton, you are a coward.”
So far, Gendron is charged with first-degree murder for carrying out the deadliest mass shooting of 2022 in what local officials have described as an act of “pure evil.”
He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Saturday night, just hours after livestreaming the attack on a predominantly black community in upstate New York.
During Wednesday’s brief hearing, Gendron, who expressed his hatred for minorities online, remained silent as Erie County Deputy District Attorney Gary Hackbush said the indictment had been served.
Dressed in an orange prison uniform and a white face mask, Gendron was then led back to jail flanked by several law enforcement officers.
Gendron is accused of driving about three hours from his home in Conklin to the Tops Friendly Market grocery store in Buffalo while wearing tactical gear and armed with an assault rifle on Saturday afternoon.
The gunman opened fire outside the store first before moving through the supermarket aisles and targeting innocent shoppers.
Ten people were killed in the attack and three others were shot but survived.
Eleven of the 13 victims were black, including the 10 who died, and ranged in age from 20 to 86.
Among those killed was a former police officer turned security guard at the store who died trying to stop the gunman.
Gendron was detained at the scene and made “disturbing statements” about his motive, making it clear that he was “filled with hatred for the black community” and was targeting black people, according to authorities.
The firearm used in the attack had the word n and the number 14 written on it, an apparent reference to a conspiracy theory.
According to an online manifesto that appears to have been posted by the gunman, Gendron called himself a racist, white supremacist and anti-Semite and detailed how he was inspired by other white supremacist mass shooters.
He also cited the discredited “great replacement theory” that has been repeatedly touted by right-wing personalities like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, an extremist conspiracy theory that falsely claims there is a plot to diminish white influence.
As the united community reels from the attack and the loss of loved ones, shocking new details about the teen gunman have also come to light.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said there is evidence that Mr. Gendron planned to continue the mass shooting in at least one other location in the community.
He had planned to leave the Tops store and head to “another big store” to continue shooting innocent people, but was stopped before he could leave the grocery store.
Authorities also learned that Gendron planned the attack several months ago and visited the store two months earlier to investigate.
Investigators believe he targeted the community three hours from his home because it has a majority black population.
Questions are also mounting about how he was able to access a firearm after it emerged that he previously threatened to carry out a mass shooting at his school.
Last June, police were called to the school over the incident and he was sent for a mental health exam.
However, he went on to purchase the gun legally, before allegedly modifying it.
More charges are expected to be filed against Mr. Gendron and the US Department of Justice is also investigating the shooting as a hate crime and a racially motivated act of terrorism and violent extremism.
If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces New York’s maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
If indicted and convicted on federal charges, he could face the death penalty.
He is currently on suicide watch in the custody of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.
The massacre has reignited calls for stricter gun control in the US and a crackdown on hate crimes and domestic terrorism, as well as stricter regulations on social media platforms that were used by the gunman to Broadcast the mass shooting and share your racist beliefs online.
Discord confirmed that Mr. Gendron shared his private diary containing his plan and motives with a group on his chat platform just 30 minutes before embarking on the attack.
President Joe Biden visited Buffalo this week where he promised to expose those who promote the “poison” of white supremacy.
“Now is the time for people of all races, of all backgrounds, to speak up as a majority … and reject white supremacy,” he said.