The Buffalo Supermarket Tragedy: A Sudden Hate Crime

A Timeline Of The Buffalo Supermarket Shooting

The Buffalo supermarket shooting, a tragic event that unfolded on May 14, 2022, was marked by a series of chilling and coordinated actions by the shooter, Payton S. Gendron. The timeline of this horrific incident reveals the meticulous planning and racially motivated hate that fueled this act of domestic terrorism.

Arrival At The Location

At around 2:30 p.m. EDT, 18-year-old Gendron arrived at the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue, located in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. He was heavily armed with a Bushmaster XM-15 AR-15-style rifle, modified to accept high-capacity magazines, and carrying multiple 30-round ammunition magazines. Additionally, in his car, Gendron had a Savage Arms Axis XP hunting rifle and a Mossberg 500 shotgun. He was dressed in body armor and a military helmet, and he equipped himself with a head-mounted camera to livestream the attack on Twitch.

Upon arrival, Gendron initiated his attack in the parking lot of the supermarket, where he shot four people, tragically killing three of them. He then proceeded to enter the store, where he continued his shooting spree, killing six more people inside. In total, he shot thirteen people, eleven of whom were Black and two were white, resulting in ten fatalities. Among the victims was Aaron Salter Jr., a 55-year-old former Buffalo Police lieutenant who was working as a security guard and bravely confronted Gendron during the attack.

Police Receive Word Of Shots Fired

The Buffalo police received a call reporting shots fired at the store at 2:31 p.m. Within a minute, the first responding officers and firefighters arrived on the scene, finding bodies outside the building. By 2:34 p.m., a dispatcher was informing other responding officers about the active shooter situation at the supermarket.

Gendron reportedly yelled racial slurs during the attack, highlighting the hate crime aspect of the shooting. Store employees and customers sought refuge in various parts of the supermarket, including the break room and the milk cooler. The milk cartons in the cooler stopped some of the bullets fired by Gendron.

The End Of The Killing Spree

By 2:36 p.m., Gendron had moved to the front of the building. He was eventually persuaded by patrol officers to drop his gun after he reportedly aimed it at his neck. A total of sixty shots were fired during the shooting.

Following his arrest at the scene, Gendron made disturbing statements regarding his motive and state of mind, which were reflective of his deeply ingrained racist beliefs. The attack not only left a community in mourning but also sparked nationwide conversations about racism, domestic terrorism, and gun violence in the United States.

His Disturbing Manifesto

Payton S. Gendron, the perpetrator of the Buffalo supermarket shooting, was 18 years old at the time of the attack on May 14, 2022. Originating from Conklin, New York, Gendron traveled approximately 200 miles to the Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo. He arrived armed with a Bushmaster XM-15 AR-15-style rifle, modified for high-capacity magazines, and additional firearms in his car. Dressed in body armor and a military helmet, he livestreamed his attack on Twitch, which was quickly terminated by the service.

Gendron’s actions were driven by deep-rooted racial hatred and white supremacist ideology, as revealed in his manifesto and online activities. His 180-page manifesto, posted on Google Docs two days before the attack, outlined his extremist beliefs and the meticulous planning behind the shooting. The manifesto reflected his transformation from self-identified “authoritarian left” to adopting neo-Nazi, antisemitic, eco-fascist, ethno-nationalist, populist, and white supremacist views. He attributed his radicalization to exposure to far-right content on platforms like 4chan and The Daily Stormer from May 2020.

“Great Replacement” A Dangerous Theory

Central to Gendron’s beliefs was the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which posits that elites are orchestrating mass immigration and reducing white birth rates to commit genocide against white people. His manifesto also accused Jews and elites of being responsible for transgender inclusivity and non-white immigration, and held prejudiced views that Black people disproportionately commit crimes against white people. Gendron expressed admiration for far-right mass shooters like Dylann Roof, Anders Behring Breivik, and Brenton Tarrant, plagiarizing a significant portion of his manifesto from their writings.

The planning for the Buffalo attack began in January 2022, with Gendron choosing Buffalo due to its high Black population. He had meticulously scouted the Tops supermarket and considered various locations, including churches, malls, and schools with predominantly Black communities. His intention was to terrorize non-white, non-Christian people and force them out of the country.

His Online Diary

In addition to the manifesto, Gendron maintained an online diary on Discord under the same username he used for the Twitch livestream. The diary, spanning from November 2021 to May 13, 2022, included photos and detailed his attack preparations. Gendron had initially planned the attack for March 15, coinciding with the anniversary of the Christchurch mosque shootings, but delayed it due to contracting COVID-19. The diary entries revealed his social isolation and discomfort with personal interactions, as well as his regret for spending much time online, particularly on 4chan.

Gendron’s online presence and the content of his manifesto and diary offer a chilling insight into the mind of a radicalized individual, driven by hate and extremist ideology, culminating in a tragic act of racially motivated violence.

His Sentencing And DOJ Seeks Death Penalty

Payton S. Gendron, the perpetrator of the 2022 Buffalo supermarket shooting, faced a series of legal proceedings leading to his sentencing. Initially arraigned in Buffalo City Court, Gendron was represented by a public defender and entered a not guilty plea to multiple charges of first-degree murder. The United States Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed that the Department of Justice was investigating the shooting as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism.

His Indictment Was Set

On June 1, a grand jury indicted Gendron with a 25-count indictment, including one count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate, ten counts of first-degree murder as a hate crime, ten counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime, three counts of attempted second-degree murder as a hate crime, and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Despite initially pleading not guilty, Gendron agreed to plead guilty to all state charges on November 17. On November 28, he pled guilty to fifteen state-level counts, including ten counts of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder motivated by hate, criminal weapons possession, and domestic terrorism motivated by hate.

On February 15, 2023, Gendron was denied youthful offender status and was sentenced to 11 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole plus 90 years. This sentence was passed in New York, where capital punishment is not practiced.

Charges Were Pressed Federally

Despite the state-level proceedings, Gendron continued to face federal charges. In December 2022, his lawyer indicated a willingness to plead guilty to the federal charges to avoid the death penalty. However, in a significant development, on January 12, 2024, the Department of Justice announced its intention to seek the death penalty for Gendron. This marked the first death penalty case under Garland’s tenure as Attorney General, who had previously expressed opposition to capital punishment.

The decision to seek the death penalty was based on several factors, including the premeditated nature of the attack, Gendron’s white supremacist beliefs, and his deliberate choice of the supermarket to maximize the number of Black victims. The federal prosecution’s move to seek the death penalty underscores the severity of Gendron’s crimes and the government’s commitment to addressing acts of domestic terrorism and hate crimes with the utmost seriousness.

The case of Payton S. Gendron not only highlights the tragic consequences of racially motivated violence but also raises critical questions about the role of the justice system in addressing hate crimes and the application of the death penalty in the United States.

How The Victims Feel About The Death Penalty

The decision by the Justice Department to seek the death penalty for Payton Gendron, the perpetrator of the racially motivated shooting at a Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, has elicited a range of reactions from the families of the victims. This complex and emotionally charged issue reflects the diverse perspectives on justice and retribution held by those most deeply affected by the tragedy.

Mark Talley, the son of victim Geraldine Talley, expressed a sentiment of dissatisfaction with the death penalty. He conveyed a desire for Gendron to endure more than just a death sentence, seeking a more prolonged form of suffering for the perpetrator. For Mark, the death penalty seemed too lenient, failing to equate to the level of suffering that he and his family have experienced. His comments reveal a deep-rooted desire for retribution beyond what the legal system typically provides.

Wayne Jones, whose mother Celestine Chaney was also killed in the attack, echoed a similar sentiment. He too wished for Gendron to experience a level of suffering commensurate with the pain inflicted upon the victims and their families. However, he acknowledged that within their group of affected individuals, there were differing opinions, with some firmly advocating for the death penalty as the only acceptable outcome.

The reactions of these family members highlight a complex and often conflicting array of emotions and beliefs surrounding the death penalty. Their responses reflect the personal and subjective nature of grief and the quest for justice. For some, the death penalty represents a form of closure and a fitting response to an act of egregious violence. For others, it may seem inadequate compared to the magnitude of their loss and the ongoing impact of the tragedy.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown supported the DOJ’s decision, viewing it as a necessary deterrent against such heinous crimes. New York Governor Kathy Hochul also expressed her support for the decision, emphasizing the need for justice in the face of such a racially motivated atrocity.

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