A man who committed a racially motivated mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, following emotional testimony from families of the victims.
The shooter, Payton Gendron, who was 18 at the time of the attack in May, live-streamed the massacre at Tops Supermarket in Buffalo. Video footage showed him bypassing white people and targeting black victims. He killed ten and injured three others.
Gendron pleaded guilty in November to state charges of murder and domestic terror motivated by hate, among other charges.
Relatives of the victims were given the opportunity to provide victim impact statements and express their pain and anger to Gendron in the courtroom. At one point, a man in the audience charged toward Gendron before being restrained by law enforcement officials.
Wayne Jones Sr., whose mother was killed in the supermarket attack, blamed the killer’s actions on the internet.
“You’ve been brainwashed,” Jones said, according to NBC. “You don’t even know Black people that much to hate them. You learned this on the internet, and it was a big mistake.”
He added, “I hope you find it in your heart to apologize to these people, man. You did wrong for no reason.”
Others in the courtroom said they would pray for Gendron, quoted the Bible, or angrily addressed him in various ways.
Tamika Harper, the niece of victim Geraldine Talley, told Gendron, “Do I hate you? No. Do I want you to die? No. I want you to stay alive. I want you to think about this every day of your life.” She added, “Think about my family and the other nine families that you’ve destroyed forever,” NBC reported.
Gendron reportedly responded to Harper’s remarks by bursting into tears. He later read a statement in the courtroom expressing regret over his actions and asking the victims and their families for forgiveness.
During his sentencing, Judge Susan Eagan said, “There can be no mercy for you, no understanding, no second chances,” as per NBC.
Gendron received multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole, which is the maximum allowable penalty in the State of New York.
However, Gendron could still face the death penalty in federal court, where he has been charged with hate crimes resulting in death and discharging a firearm to commit murder.
Gendron’s lawyers said he would plead guilty in the federal case in order to avoid the death penalty, according to AP.
In Texas, there have been 411 crimes in 2020 classified as bias motivation in multiple different categories, including Race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity, among others, according to the federal Department of Justice.
More recently, the El Paso Walmart shooter pleaded guilty Wednesday to hate crime charges, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Meanwhile, in Dallas, hate crimes have totaled only six this year, according to the Dallas crime analytics dashboard. Violent crimes, in general, have gone up from last February with 430 compared to 382 from the same month in the previous year.