BUFFALO, N.Y. — The gunman in a racist massacre at a Buffalo supermarket last year is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday after pleading guilty to a range of state charges in the attack in which he killed 10 people, all of them Black.
The gunman, Payton Gendron, pleaded guilty in November to 15 counts, including 10 counts of first-degree murder and a single count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate, which carries a penalty of life imprisonment without parole. Judge Susan Eagan was scheduled to issue her sentence in a hearing on Wednesday morning at the Erie County courthouse.
He is expected to face a barrage of victims’ statements. Last week, the Buffalo News reported that the gunman was also expected to make a statement, including an apology to victims.
He is an avowed white supremacist who livestreamed the May 14 attack and specifically chose the Tops market in east Buffalo because it had a large Black clientele.
In the days and months before his massacre, the gunman — who was 18 at the time — had written in exhaustive and hate-filled detail about his plans, which he said were inspired by other racist killers in recent history.
The massacre in Buffalo was a stark reminder of the rise of white supremacy in America as well as of the limitations of state gun laws in an age when the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed broad protections for gun owners, including striking down a New York law in June which placed strict limits on carrying guns.
Shortly after the Buffalo attack, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a series of measures to once again strengthen New York’s gun laws while investigating social media platforms where the gunman was radicalized. (That new gun law has, thus far, withstood legal challenges.)
Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, also mandated that New York State Police use the state’s so-called red-flag law to seek emergency orders from judges to seize weapons from people who are believed to pose a threat to themselves or others.
Mr. Gendron was never flagged by such systems, however, despite the fact that he had voiced a desire to commit a murder-suicide while he was high school student in 2021, and was taken in for a psychiatric evaluation. He was soon released.
The planning and barbarity of his plans became apparent on May 14: After driving to Buffalo from his home in Conklin, N.Y., some 200 miles from Buffalo, the gunman wore body armor and camouflage during his shooting spree.
He also posted a lengthy screed riddled with racist writings and expressing admiration for a white supremacist ideology known as replacement theory, which posits the false idea that white people, who make up the vast majority of America’s population, are being supplanted by minorities.
His video feed of the attack was briefly online, before being shut down by social media companies. Still, the Buffalo attack remains one of the nation’s deadliest racist shootings, joining a list of such massacres, including the killing of nine Black parishioners at a church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015; an antisemitic rampage in Pittsburgh, at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018 where 11 people were killed; and an attack at a Walmart in El Paso in 2019, by a man who had expressed hatred of Latinos in which more than 20 people were killed.