The gunman who killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo grocery store after posting a racist screed online has been charged with federal hate crimes.
What the charges mean: Peyton Gendron, 18, who shot 13 people at Tops Friendly Market on May 14, already faces a mandatory life sentence with no chance for parole if convicted under previously filed state charges, which include hate-motivated domestic terrorism and murder.
Attorney General Merrick Garland visited Buffalo on Wednesday to meet with the families of those killed in the attack, according to The Associated Press.
Although Garland paused federal executions last year, he didn’t rule out seeking the death penalty, saying he would consult with families and survivors to determine whether to bring up capital punishment.
“No one in this country should have to live in fear that they will go to work or shop at a grocery store and will be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin,” Garland said at a news conference.
What motivated the Buffalo shooter? The hate crimes charges are based on a racist diatribe the gunman posted before the attack, as well as findings uncovered by FBI agents who executed a search warrant at his home.
According to AP, agents found a note in which he apologized to his family, saying he “had to commit this attack” because he cares “for the future of the White race.”
In an affidavit, FBI agent Christopher Dlugokinski said the suspect’s goal was “to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks,” according to The New York Times.
Court filings also detail how the shooter surveilled the grocery store prior to the attack, returning the day before and the morning of the shooting.
What’s next? Even though charges have been filed, the FBI is continuing to investigate the case, including whether other people in online chats knew of the shooter’s plans or possibly incited him to violence.