Justice Department Pursues Death Penalty for Buffalo Supermarket Shooter Payton Gendron: 10 Lives Lost in Racially Motivated Attack

Buffalo, New York – The Justice Department has stated its intention to seek the death penalty for Payton Gendron, the individual responsible for a racially motivated shooting that claimed the lives of 10 people at a Tops Supermarket in Buffalo in May 2022. The announcement was made in a court filing on Friday. Gendron, who was 19 years old at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty to state charges related to the killings in February 2023.

Federal prosecutors outlined the reasons for seeking the death penalty, citing Gendron’s intentional actions resulting in the deaths of Roberta Drury, Pearl Young, Hayward Patterson, Ruth Whitfield, Celestine Chaney, Aaron W Salter Jr., Andre Mackniel, Marcus Morrison, Katherine Massey, and Geraldine Talley. They also emphasized Gendron’s expressed bias, hatred, and contempt toward Black individuals, asserting that racism played a significant role in the shooting.

The filing mentioned that Gendron’s deliberate infliction of bodily injury and intentional participation in acts resulting in death further justified the pursuit of the death penalty. The shooting was motivated by Gendron’s adherence to a racist, far-right conspiracy known as replacement theory. The rifle used in the attack had markings with phrases such as “here’s your reparations” and “the great replacement.”

Regarding previous similar cases, Attorney General Merrick Garland pursued the death penalty for Sayfullo Saipov, who killed eight individuals with a truck in Manhattan in 2017, as well as for Robert Bowers, who killed 11 people in a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018. However, a jury decided not to sentence Saipov to death, while Bowers was given the death penalty.

It is important to note that Garland has instituted a moratorium on federal executions since July 2021. Gendron, who is already serving a life sentence without parole on state charges, pleaded guilty to 15 charges, including domestic terrorism motivated by hate, murder, and attempted murder.

The Justice Department’s decision to seek the death penalty against Gendron comes as part of their ongoing efforts to address hate crimes and ensure justice for the victims and their families.