Buffalo Shooting Suspect Charged With Federal Hate Crimes

A month after a massacre at a Buffalo supermarket left 10 Black residents dead, federal prosecutors charged the accused gunman with 26 counts of hate crimes and weapons violations on Wednesday.

Some of the federal charges could carry the death penalty, though there is currently a moratorium on federal executions.

The news of the criminal complaint came as Attorney General Merrick Garland traveled to Buffalo on Wednesday to visit the site of the massacre — a Tops Friendly Market in the city’s East Side — to meet with victims families and appear with Trini E. Ross, the United States Attorney for the Western District of New York.

All told, 13 people were shot at the Tops on the afternoon of May 14; three survived.

The suspect, Payton Gendron, 18, is an avowed white supremacist who wore body armor and carried a semiautomatic rifle while livestreaming the attack online. In the days before the attack, the suspect also posted a lengthy rant outlining his belief in so-called replacement theory, a belief rooted in white supremacy that posits a scheme to “replace” white people with people of color.

In the complaint filed Wednesday, an F.B.I. agent said that the suspect’s motive was “to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks.”

Authorities have previously said that he had elaborately planned his massacre, traveling more than 200 miles from his home in Conklin, N.Y., after choosing the East Side neighborhood in Buffalo because of its large number of Black residents. They also believe he visited the Tops market before the attack to do reconnaissance and wrote a series of private posts about his plans on Discord, a messaging platform, which he made public shortly before the attack.

Mr. Garland’s announcement came two weeks after the suspect’s indictment on 25 counts of murder and other state charges, including a charge of domestic terrorism motivated by hate — believed to be the first time that the 2020 law has been leveled against a defendant.

Mr. Gendron has pleaded not guilty to those charges and is being held without bail.

The attack at Tops, and an even more deadly massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, has already impacted both policy and politics in New York, including the passage of a series of new state laws meant to tighten restrictions on gun ownership, including raising the minimum age to buy a semiautomatic rifle to 21. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, also issued a pair of executive orders, including one to enhance monitoring of online extremism by the State Police.

The mass shooting in Buffalo also led Representative Chris Jacobs, a Republican who represents some of the city’s suburbs, to embrace a series of gun control measures, prompting a furious blowback from members of his own party. As a response, Mr. Jacobs said he would not run for a new term in November, decrying many Republicans’ unblinking opposition to any gun control.

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