DOJ to seek death penalty for gunman in Buffalo supermarket mass shooting

Police secure an area around a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket where 10 people were killed in a shooting on May 14, 2022.

Derek Gee / Derek Gee

Updated January 12, 2024 at 2:00 PM ET

The Justice Department says it will seek the death penalty for the white gunman who killed 10 African Americans in 2022 at grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., in a racially motivated massacre.

In a new court filing submitted Friday, federal prosecutors say that the circumstances of the crimes “are such that, in the event of a conviction, a sentence of death is justified.” This marks the first time that the Justice Department under the Biden administration has sought the death penalty in a new case.

The gunman, Payton Gendron, pleaded guilty in New York state court last year to the May 2022 killings at the Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo. He was sentenced in November in the state case to life without parole.

But Gendron still faces a federal prosecution on 27 counts of hate crimes and gun charges.

In the new filing in federal court in Buffalo, prosecutors say there are several factors that justify a death sentence, including that the killings were intentional, required substantial planning and premeditation and were racially motivated.

They say, for example, that he selected the Tops Friendly Market “in order to maximize the number of Black victims.” They also say Gendron attempted to incite violence action by others.

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