New York, Nov 28 (EFE).- A gunman who killed 10 people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, earlier this year pleaded guilty on Monday to charges that included 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree domestic terrorism motivated by hate and now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
Payton Gendron, a 19-year-old who is a self-described white supremacist, entered guilty pleas to all 15 state charges at a court hearing in a Buffalo court and will be sentenced on Feb. 15.
Gendron, who used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in the May 14 attack, still faces numerous federal hate-crime and firearms charges, some of which carry the possibility of the death penalty.
In June, a state indictment was handed down against Gendron that included charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder as a hate crime, attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon and domestic terrorism motivated by hate.
Gendron became the first person to be charged with that latter crime since the state statute was introduced in 2020 in response to a 2019 school shooting in El Paso, Texas, that targeted Hispanics.
“That charge only has one sentence, if in fact, that offender is found guilty of that charge,” John Flynn – the district attorney in Erie County, where the attack occurred – told reporters then. “That is life without parole.”
The gunman traveled for several hours before arriving at the Tops Friendly Markets supermarket in a predominantly African-American neighborhood of Buffalo, a city in the far-western part of New York state, near the border with Canada.
He was wearing military-style tactical gear, including a helmet with a camera that he used to livestream the mass shooting on streaming platform Twitch.
Gendron, who had initially pleaded not guilty to the state charges in June, shot four people in the parking lot of the supermarket, three of whom died. He then entered the store and killed seven more people, including a security guard.
The majority of his victims were African-American.
A federal grand jury also returned a 27-count indictment against Gendron on July 14 that charged him with “10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill three injured individuals and one hate crimes count alleging that Gendron attempted to kill additional Black people in and around the Tops grocery store,” the United States Justice Department said then.
It added that the indictment “also charges Gendron with 13 counts of using, carrying or discharging a firearm in relation to the hate crimes.”
Prior to the mass shooting, the gunman had posted a 180-page manifesto online in which he spelled out his racist and white-supremacist ideas and outlined his step-by-step plan for carrying out the killings. EFE