UPDATED: 11:30 a.m. ET
An unidentified man ran toward a convicted racist mass murderer in an apparent attempted attack while one of the victims’ family members addressed the court during a sentencing hearing on Wednesday morning in Buffalo, New York.
Video footage from inside a courtroom where Payton Gendron was being sentenced for killing 10 Black people in a supermarket shooting last year showed the sister of Katherine Massey speaking passionately before the man entered the frame and ran toward Gendron.
A group of police officers stopped the man before he reached Gendron, who was quickly ushered out of the court. The officers had gathered around the defendant in apparent anticipation of a potential physical confrontation while Barbara Massey delivered her victim impact statement to the court.
Following the victim impact statements, Gendron was formally sentenced Wednesday to life in prison.
The racist, convicted mass murderer who killed 10 Black people last year in a targeted shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, specifically because Black people shopped there, is expected to be sent to prison for the rest of his life during a sentencing hearing on Wednesday. But that doesn’t eliminate a very real option of the death penalty stemming from separate federal hate crimes he still faces.
Payton Gendron, 19, is scheduled to be sentenced after some of the fatal victims’ family members and survivors from the shooting deliver statements about the domestic terror that took place at Tops Friendly Market May 14, 2022.
Back in November, Gendron pleaded guilty to all 25 counts in the state indictment and waived his right to appeal. He was charged with murder, murder as a hate crime and domestic terrorism motivated by hate, all of which come with an automatic life sentence following convictions.
But Gendron also faces far more hefty federal hate crime charges. If convicted of those, it could result in a death sentence. However, the Justice Department has not said whether it will pursue the death penalty. Federal prosecutors have reportedly said a decision will take time and may not come quickly.
The Washington Post reported that the victims’ family members do not all agree that Gendron should be given the death penalty.
“The emotions run the gamut,” Terrence Connors, an attorney who represents several victims’ families and one survivor, told the Post on Tuesday. “There are those who are anxious to see him receive the maximum punishment, and there are family members who regard him as irrelevant to their lives and will not pay him any deference, but are still hoping to make something positive out of this horrible situation.”
Gendron was indicted last July on 27 counts of federal hate crime and firearm charges.
“Should the Attorney General determine that the circumstances of the offense are such that a sentence of death is justified, the law requires that notice be filed with the court at a reasonable time before trial,” the DOJ said in a press release at the time.
Gendron drove hours from his hometown in upstate New York before using an assault rifle to kill 10 Black people and injure several others at the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo. Those killed ranged from 32 to 86 years old.
After his arrest, investigators found a manifesto left by Gendron that espoused a racist “white replacement” conspiracy theory that’s become increasingly popular among those holding far-right, ultra-conservative and mainstream Republican views. The so-called “White Replacement Theory” was referenced in the manifesto.
The manifesto also claimed he was most influenced by the racist terrorist who killed dozens of Muslims worshiping at a mosque in New Zealand in 2019, the New York Daily News reported. Other people Gendron named as his inspirations for his killing spree in Buffalo include Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine parishioners at a historically Black church in South Carolina in 2015.
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