May 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Grand jury indicts Buffalo mass shooting suspect on first-degree murder charge

Memorial at the Buffalo shooting scene
A sign left at a memorial on Monday with the names of the victims of the mass shooting which left ten dead. Photo: Matt Burkhartt for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A grand jury indicted the 18-year-old white man accused of killing 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket shooting last weekend on a first-degree murder charge, the Associated Press reported following a short court hearing Thursday morning.

Why it matters: The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism, as 11 of the 13 total victims in the mass shooting were Black and the semiautomatic rifle used in the attack had been inscribed with a racial epithet and the number 14, a white supremacist numeric symbol.

What they're saying: “The defendant continues to remain held without bail," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said in a statement released after the hearing. "There will be no further comment from our office until there is a report following an investigation by the Grand Jury."

  • "As are all persons accused of a crime, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

Payton Gendron, who is from Conklin, New York, was identified in court as the suspected shooter on Saturday.

  • Police said he drove more than 200 miles from Conklin to Buffalo to "scope out" the grocery store in advance and wore tactical gear, including a bulletproof vest during the shooting.
  • Law enforcement confirmed that the suspect livestreamed the shooting on Twitch for about two minutes. Copies and screenshots were taken from the broadcast and continue to circulate online.
  • Aaron Salter, 55, a retired police officer working security at the store during the attack, fired at the gunman as he entered the store, but the shots did not penetrate Gendron's body armor. Salter was killed during the attack.

The big picture: Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said earlier this week that Gendron, then 17, received a mental health evaluation last June following a "generalized" threat made against his high school.

  • Law enforcement officials are still attempting to validate whether the suspect also published a 180-page racist screed posted to the online forum 4chan before the shooting, which repeatedly cited the racist and anti-immigrant "white replacement theory" as motivation for the attack

What's next: Gendron is scheduled to appear in court again on June 9.

Go deeper: Remembering the victims of the Buffalo mass shooting

Go deeper