Gendron pleaded guilty in May 2022 to state charges of killing 10 people.
Peyton Gendron, then 19, who killed 10 people in a racially motivated shooting at a Topps supermarket in Buffalo, New York in May 2022, will be sentenced to death, the Justice Department said in a court filing Friday.
“The United States believes that the circumstances in counts 11-20 of the indictment, if convicted, would justify the death penalty,” the filing said.
Gendron's attorneys have previously said they would consider pleading guilty to the federal charges if the death penalty is taken off the table.
In the filing, federal prosecutors outlined the reasons they believe the death penalty should be imposed, saying, “Gendron intentionally killed Roberta Drury, Pearl Young, Hayward Patterson, Ruth Whitfield, Celestine Chaney, Aaron W. Salter Jr., Andre Magniel, Marcus Morrison. , Catherine Massey and Geraldine Daly.”
The Justice Department cited Gendron's intentional bodily injury, intentional participation in an act resulting in death and blatant racism in connection with the shooting.
“Payton Gendron's bias, hatred and contempt for black people and his hostility toward black people played a role,” the filing said.
A federal grand jury handed up a 27-count indictment against Gendron in July 2022, accusing Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr. of 14 violations of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act: “10 hate crimes involving death, three hate crimes involving the attempted murder of three individuals, and A hate crime alleges that Gendron attempted to kill additional black people in and around the Dobbs grocery store,” according to a statement from the Justice Department. Also, 13 firing cases have been registered against him.
Gendron was motivated by a racist, far-right conspiracy known as Alternative Theory, and he wanted to “encourage others to commit similar attacks,” according to a criminal complaint. Markings on the gun used in the shooting included the phrases “here are your compensations” and “big change,” the complaint said.
Garland prosecuted two death penalty cases during his tenure — one in October 2017 against Syfullo Saipov, who killed eight people with a truck on a Manhattan bike path, and the second in October 2018 against Robert Bowers, who killed 11 in a Pittsburgh tree shooting at Life Synagogue. A jury decided not to sentence Saibo to death, and Bowers was given the death penalty.
However, both of those cases were carried over from the previous administration, and Garland imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in July 2021. The ban remains the same.
Gendron was sentenced in February 2023 to life in prison without parole on state charges after pleading guilty to 15 charges, including domestic terrorism motivated by hatred, murder and attempted murder.
Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan on May 14, 2022 sentenced each of the 10 victims he killed at Topps Market to life without parole and 25 years to each of the three he shot and wounded.
During the sentencing hearing, Gendron offered a brief apology, saying he was “deeply sorry for all the pain” he had caused “for stealing the lives of your loved ones.”
“I did a terrible thing that day. I shot people because I was black,” Gendron said.
This is a growing story. Check back for updates.