On Wednesday, a white supremacist who murdered 10 Black people at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket last year was sentenced to life. A man in the audience charged toward Payton Gendron and was held, interrupting the punishment. After 10 minutes, more sad testimony from individuals who lost loved ones in the incident followed.
Gendron, enraged by internet racist conspiracy theories, cried during parts of the testimony. He quickly apologized. He pleaded guilty to murder and hate-motivated domestic terrorism in November, receiving an automatic life sentence. On May 14, the 19-year-old utilized a legally purchased semiautomatic rifle modified to load illegal high-capacity ammo magazines while wearing bullet-resistant armor and a helmet with a live-streaming camera.
Gendron faces federal charges if the US justice department seeks the death sentence. In December, Gendron’s defense attorney said he would plead guilty in federal court to escape death. Barbara Massey Mapps chastised Gendron for killing her sister Katherine Massey, 72, at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday. As he yelled and pointed at Gendron, an audience member halted moving toward Mapps.
“You don’t know what we’re going through,” he shouted as court staff took him away. The family hugged and consoled each other. After ten minutes, Judge Susan Eagan ordered Gendron to re-enter and continued the hearing, urging everyone to “conduct oneself nicely.” Eagan said he understood the fury and wrath, but the courtroom cannot have that.
Family members and victims of the incident were able to express their grief and outrage at the punishment. Gendron was slammed. Others quoted Scripture or prayed for him. He was chastised for targeting a predominantly Black neighborhood outside his white birthplace. “You’ve been indoctrinated,” Celestine Chaney’s only child Wayne Jones Sr. said as the audience cried.
You don’t know Black folks to dislike them. Learning this online was a big mistake. I hope you can apologize to these people. You misbehaved without reason. Kimberly Salter, the widow of security officer Aaron Salter, said her family was wearing “red for the blood that he lost for his family and for his town, and black because we are still grieving.”
Christopher Braden, a Tops Friendly Market leg-wounded employee, said that seeing the victims as he was brought out devastated him. “The visions bother me every day and in my sleep.” Gendron cried too. Three people survived his thirteen shots. Victims were 32–86. Gendron hoped for an attack on online documents. He chose the Tops business, some three hours from his Conklin, New York, home since it was in a Black community.
The family of the victims who went to Washington to appear before Congress called for tighter gun legislation after the mass shooting and another two weeks later at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 pupils and two teachers. New York lawmakers promptly banned semiautomatic firearm sales to most under-21s. The state banned some body armor sales. Joe Biden signed a gun violence compromise package in June that will tighten background checks, prevent more domestic abusers from owning firearms, and help states enact red flag legislation to make it easier to seize weapons from dangerous people.