Gunman in racist mass shooting in Buffalo to face death penalty

Federal prosecutors in the United States will seek the death penalty against Payton Gendron, a white supremacist who murdered 10 Black people during a livestreamed supermarket rampage in New York state.

Gendron, 20, is already serving a life sentence in prison with no chance of parole, after he pleaded guilty to state charges of murder and hate-motivated domestic terrorism in the 2022 attack in Buffalo.

In a notice announcing the decision to seek the death penalty, Trini Ross, US attorney for western New York, wrote that Gendron had selected the supermarket “in order to maximise the number of Black victims”.

The notice cited a range of factors for the decision, including the substantial planning leading to the shooting and the decision to target at least one victim who was “particularly vulnerable due to old age and infirmity”.

On May 14, 2022, the then-18-year-old Gendron, had driven from his hometown of Conklin, more than 322km (200 miles) away, wearing heavy body armour and wielding an AR-15 assault rifle.

According to prosecutors, he shot four people in the parking lot, three of them fatally, before entering the grocery store. Gendron also wore a helmet with a video camera attached and livestreamed the two-minute attack on the platform Twitch.

The dead, who ranged in age from 32 to 86, included eight customers, the store security guard and a church deacon who drove shoppers to and from the store with their groceries. Three people were wounded but survived.

On Friday, after a hearing with the federal prosecutors, relatives of the victims expressed mixed views on whether they thought the prosecutors should pursue the death penalty.

“I’m not necessarily disappointed in the decision … It would have satisfied me more knowing he would have spent the rest of his life in prison being surrounded by the population of people he tried to kill,” Mark Talley, whose 63-year-old mother Geraldine Talley was killed by Gendron, told The Associated Press.

“I would prefer he spend the rest of his life in prison suffering every day,” he added.

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