An 18-year-old white man accused of killing 10 Black people and injuring three others in a racist attack at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store was indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crimes and firearms charges, the Department of Justice said Thursday.
Payton Gendron faces 27 counts, including 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in deaths, three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill, and 13 counts of using, carrying or discharging a firearm in relation to a hate crime over the May 14 shooting at Tops Friendly Market.
“The Justice Department fully recognizes the threat that white supremacist violence poses to the safety of the American people and American democracy,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday.
If convicted on the federal charges, Gendron faces a maximum penalty of death or life imprisonment. He is in custody on state charges in New York.
Last month, he was indicted on charges of domestic terrorism motivated by hate and 10 counts of first-degree murder, with the indictment coming more than two weeks after the deadly shooting. That 25-count indictment also contained charges of murder and attempted murder as a hate crime and weapons possession.
A total of 13 people, including 11 Black people and two white people, were shot in the massacre, which the suspect had streamed on the social media platform Twitch. A Twitch spokesperson had said the video was pulled “less than two minutes after the violence started.”
During an investigation into the shooting, authorities found a document that appeared to be written by the suspect, suggesting he had targeted Buffalo because it was the city with the most Black residents in closest proximity to his home.
Garland had said the Justice Department was investigating the shooting as a “hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.”
Minyvonne Burke contributed.