Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
(BUFFALO) — Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown appeared to confirm reports Thursday that Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect Payton Gendron is expected to plead guilty during a court appearance scheduled for Monday.
Attorneys representing families of victims have also said they’ve been told to expect a guilty plea.
“I think it’s good that this individual is pleading guilty,” Brown said in response to a question at the end of a storm briefing he attended with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Gendron faces 25 state charges in connection with the May 14 mass shooting at the Tops grocery store. Ten Black people were killed in what authorities said was a racially motivated attack.
The indictment was the first in the state to invoke a statute that comingled terrorism and hate crimes.
Gendron is scheduled to appear in Erie County Court on Monday at 2 p.m.
A spokeswoman for the Erie County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment, citing a gag order imposed on the attorneys in the case.
Gendron, who is white, also faces federal hate crime charges in connection with the shooting.
The 19-year-old is accused of planning the massacre for months, including driving to the store to sketch the layout and count the number of Black people present, according to federal prosecutors.
He pleaded not guilty in both cases during arraignments in state and federal court.
Last month, the New York Attorney General’s Office released a scathing report accusing dark web platforms of “radicalizing” the teenage suspect. The accused shooter consumed voluminous amounts of racist and violent content before broadcasting the deadly attack online, according to the report.
An Erie County grand jury returned a 25-count indictment against Gendron in June. The highest charge he faces is domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree, a crime enacted in the state in November 2020, according to Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn.
Flynn said Gendron is the first person in the state ever charged with the crime.
“That charge only has one sentence if, in fact, the defendant is found guilty of that charge and that is life without parole,” Flynn said in June. “There’s no minimum. There’s no maximum. That is the only punishment on that charge.”
In addition to the domestic terrorism charge, the 25-count indictment includes 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime, three counts of attempted murder as a hate crime and one count of criminal possession of a weapon.
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