The Justice Department has filed federal hate crime charges against the suspect in the racist Buffalo supermarket shooting that killed 10 Black people and injured three others in May.
Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old white man, faces 10 counts of hate crime resulting in death, three counts of hate crime involving bodily injury and attempt to kill, and 13 counts of firearms offenses.
Officials have said that the suspect traveled hours to Buffalo to carry out the shooting in which he intentionally targeted Black people. He had railed against people of color in a racist screed posted days before the shooting, accusing them of "replacing" white people, embracing a white supremacist conspiracy theory that has been promoted by Republican officials and conservative pundits.
Federal prosecutors say that the suspect's motive "was to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks," according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in the Western District of New York.
The federal complaint lays out the suspect's alleged plan of attack, including several visits to the supermarket days before the shooting. Prosecutors say that he went to that Tops store at least three times on March 8, six days before the shooting, "created two sketches of the interior layout of the store," and counted the number of Black shoppers and security guards. He also went to the store the day before the shooting on May 13 and again on May 14, just hours before he carried out the mass shooting, prosecutors say.
Investigators found a “goodbye letter” in the suspect’s bedroom addressed to his family that says he "had to commit this attack" because it was "for the future of the
White race," the complaint says.
The federal charges were announced as Attorney General Merrick Garland visited the families of the victims and survivors in Buffalo on Wednesday.
"No one in this country should have to live in fear that they will go to work or shop at the grocery store, and they will be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin, someone who commits that act because he subscribes to the vile theory that only people like him belong in this country," Garland said at a press conference in Buffalo.
Garland previously said that the Justice Department was investigating the shooting as a hate crime and a racially motivated violent extremism act.
The Buffalo supermarket shooting was the deadliest mass shootings in 2022 until days later when a gunman shot up a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school, killing 19 children and two adults.
Gun violence is a public health crisis in this country, according to the American Public Health Association. It is a leading cause of premature death in the US, responsible for more than 38,000 deaths annually. So far in 2022, 19,845 people have died from gun violence, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.