Defendant is first person to be indicted & convicted under New York State Penal Law 490.28 ‘domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree’
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn on Monday announced 19-year-old Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, New York, pleaded guilty that morning before Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan to the highest charges in the indictment against him. Gendron pleaded guilty, as charged, to the following offenses:
√ One count of domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree (Class “A-I” felony)
√ Ten counts of murder in the first degree (Class “A-I” felonies)
√ Three counts of attempted murder in the second degree as a hate crime (Class “A-I” felonies)
√ One count of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree (Class “C” violent felony)
Flynn’s team shared the following:
On Saturday, May 14, 2022, at approximately 2:30 p.m., the defendant, with the intent to cause the death or attempt to cause the death of five or more people based on the race or perceived race of such persons, drove to Tops Friendly Markets on Jefferson Avenue in the City of Buffalo to commit a mass shooting.
The defendant, who was wearing tactical gear and armed with an assault weapon, encountered several people in the parking lot. The defendant intentionally shot four people outside of the grocery store. Three of the victims died from their injuries. The fourth victim was injured by gunfire, but survived.
After the initial shooting, the defendant immediately entered the store. The defendant exchanged gunfire with an armed security guard who attempted to stop the attack. The security guard was fatally injured and died at the scene. While inside of the store, the defendant intentionally shot eight more people. Six victims died from their injuries. Two victims were injured by gunfire, but survived.
The defendant was quickly apprehended by Buffalo Police officers who responded to the scene within two minutes of the initial 911 call. The defendant was taken into custody without further incident.
Gendron faces maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023 at 9:30 a.m. He continues to be held without bail at the Erie County Holding Center.
“After selecting the City of Buffalo as the target of his planned terror attack, this defendant drove for several hours with the intent to kill innocent African American citizens as they shopped for groceries on a Saturday afternoon,” Flynn said. “Violence, especially violence motivated by hate or prejudice, will not be tolerated. I, along with the four assistant district attorneys who have diligently worked on this case, remain committed to obtaining justice for the victims and this community by prosecuting this defendant to the fullest extent of the law.
“I continue to pray for all who have been impacted by this tragedy. While we may never fully heal from the horrific crime and the loss of life that occurred on May 14, I hope that the families of the victims and the survivors feel that justice has been served by this defendant pleading guilty today. Our office will request that the court impose the maximum sentence.”
Flynn commended the Buffalo Police Department for its work in this investigation with a special acknowledgement to Lt. Patrick McDonald; and officers Ann Devaney, Anthony D’Agostino and Christina Ihle, who arrived first at the scene of this crime. Flynn also commended the Erie County Sheriff’s Office; New York State Police; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and all of the other assisting local, state and federal law enforcement agencies for their work in this extensive investigation.
DA Flynn further recognized the work of his office’s Homicide/Victim Witness Protection Case Manager Kimberly Rapp for providing ongoing support to the families of the 10 victims and the three survivors throughout the prosecution of this case; Chief Danielle D’Abate of the community prosecution/training unit, for her work in community initiatives following this tragedy; and “the numerous government agencies, community organizations and volunteers who have helped the people in our community who were impacted by this tragedy, and the temporary closure of Tops Friendly Markets.”
The case was prosecuted by Chief Gary W. Hackbush of the homicide unit, Chief John P. Feroleto of the major crimes unit, Assistant District Attorney Justin H. Caldwell of the narcotics/intelligence unit, Assistant District Attorney Noha A. Elnakib of the special victims/domestic violence bureau and Assistant District Attorney Ryan D. Haggerty of the homicide unit.