Buffalo, N.Y. (AP) — A white man charged with the murder of 10 black people at a Buffalo supermarket briefly appeared in court Thursday after a grand jury indicted him on first-degree murder charges.
Assistant District Attorney Gary Hackbush said an indictment against 18-year-old Peyton Gendren was filed Wednesday.
Gendron, who was wearing an orange prison uniform and mask, remained silent during the one-minute proceedings in the presence of relatives of the victims.
Someone shouted: “Payton, you’re a coward!” as he was led out. He was jailed without bail.
In New York, prosecutors can only charge defendants with first-degree murder in exceptional circumstances, including situations where multiple people die in the same incident, such as the Buffalo shooting. The single count for Gendron covers all 10 deaths in supermarkets.
A total of 13 people were shot and killed Saturday at Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly black community in Buffalo. Authorities are continuing to investigate the possibility of hate crimes and terrorism charges.
Gendron, 18, live-streamed the attack from a helmet camera before surrendering to police outside the grocery store. Shortly before the attack, he posted hundreds of pages on online discussion groups detailing his attack plans and racist motives.
Investigators have been examining the files, including a private diary he kept on the chat platform Discord.
In his first court appearance last week, Gendron’s court-appointed lawyer entered a “not guilty” plea on his behalf. He will return to court on June 9.
Even in a country almost insensitive to mass shootings, the massacre at the Tops supermarket is disturbing. All but two of the 13 people shot and killed in the attack were black. Gendron’s online writings say he orchestrated the attack after becoming obsessed with white supremacist ideologies he encountered online.
The diary said Gendron secretly planned his attack without outside help, but Discord confirmed Wednesday that invitations to access his private writings were sent to a small group of people about 30 minutes before the attack began.
Some of them accepted the invitation. It is unclear how many people read what he wrote or logged in to watch the live attack. It is also unclear whether any attempts have been made to alert law enforcement.
Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaria said investigators were working to obtain, verify and review Gendron’s online posts.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday authorized the state’s Attorney General Letitia James to investigate the social media platforms used by Gendron to determine whether they were responsible for “providing a platform to plan and promote violence.”