Justice Department files federal hate crime charges against alleged Buffalo gunman
The 18-year-old white man who is believed to have killed 10 people in a mass shooting in Buffalo last month, most of whom were Black, was charged with 26 counts of federal hate crimes on Wednesday.
Driving the news: "[Payton] Gendron's motive for the mass shooting was to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks," prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York wrote in a court filing.
- Gendron faces 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, three counts of hate crimes involving bodily injury and attempt to kill, 10 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a violent crime.
What they're saying: "The affidavit in support of the complaint quotes the defendant as stating that is goal was to 'kill as many Blacks as possible,'" Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a press conference on Wednesday.
- "The affidavit outlines how the defendant prepared for months to carry out this attack. It alleges that he selected a target in this ZIP code because it has the highest percentage of Black people close enough to where he lives," Garland added.
- "He selected the Tops store because it is where a high percentage and high density of Black people can be found. And he made a map of the inside of the Tops store 'and decided that the best plan of attack for the highest chance of success.'"
Garland said the defendant chronicled his planned attack on his Discord account for several months, detailing how he purchased firearms and other supplies, and traveled to the store several times.
- Garland said that during the attack, the shooter aimed his rifle at a white Tops employee that had been shot in the leg.
- "Instead of shooting the Tops employee, the gunman apologized to him before continuing his attack."
The big picture: The Department of Justice is investigating the shooting as a "targeted attack, a hate crime, and an act of racially motivated violent extremism," FBI Director Christopher Wray said last month.
- "I want to be clear, for my part, from everything we know, this was a targeted attack, a hate crime, and an act of racially motivated violent extremism," he said.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.