Buffalo shooting suspect Payton Gendron pleads not guilty to federal hate crime charges

Payton Gendron is accused of killing 10 and wounding 3 in a hate-fueled shooting attack in Buffalo, N.Y.

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A New York man accused of opening fire at a Buffalo grocery store and killing 10 people in May pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges Monday.

Payton Gendron, appearing in an orange prison uniform and sneakers, entered at 11:01 a.m., wearing handcuffs and shackles. He sat at the defense table and briefly rose as U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Schroeder took the bench.

Gendron did not speak. His attorney entered the plea and mentioned that his client could enter a plea agreement before the case moves to trial.

Several victims’ family members attended the arraignment, including Zeneta Everhart, whose son Zaire Goodman was wounded in the attack.

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Payton Gendron arrives for a hearing at the Erie County Courthouse on May 19, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. Gendron is accused of killing 10 people and wounding another 3 during a shooting at a Tops supermarket on May 14 in Buffalo. The attack was believed to be motivated by racial hatred.  

Payton Gendron arrives for a hearing at the Erie County Courthouse on May 19, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. Gendron is accused of killing 10 people and wounding another 3 during a shooting at a Tops supermarket on May 14 in Buffalo. The attack was believed to be motivated by racial hatred.   (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

"It's hard," Everhart said after the hearing. "My son is still recovering from gunshot wounds. It's hard sitting in that courtroom with a terrorist."

She said she is hoping for life imprisonment but would support the death penalty for her son's suspected attacker if prosecutors decide to seek it.

A federal grand jury indicted Gendron last week on more than two dozen charges, 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.

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Gendron, who is White, drove more than three hours from his home outside of Binghamton up to a Tops Market grocery store in a predominantly Black Buffalo neighborhood on May 14, then allegedly opened fire.

Schroeder asked if the defense had a chance to read the indictment and what plea they would be entering today. Assistant Federal Public Defender Sonya Zoghlin told the judge that while the defense "would hope" the parties can resolve this case "before trial," at this point she is ready to enter a "not guilty" plea on Gendron’s behalf.

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His next status hearing is Dec. 9, and the judge transferred him back to state custody.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said after the attack that Gendron drove up to the grocery store and shot four people outside, then entered the store and continued his rampage.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia hugs Leah Holton-Pope, senior advisor to New York Assembly Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes prior to a ceremony to honor the victims on the two-month anniversary of the attack by a racist gunman at a memorial outside the store in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, July 14, 2022. 

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia hugs Leah Holton-Pope, senior advisor to New York Assembly Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes prior to a ceremony to honor the victims on the two-month anniversary of the attack by a racist gunman at a memorial outside the store in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, July 14, 2022.  (Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP)

Wearing body armor, he exchanged fire with security guard Aaron Salter, who was a retired police officer. Salter fired several rounds at Gendron before the suspect fatally shot him, Gramaglia said.

He allegedly livestreamed the attack online and written a 180-page hate-filled manifesto. His attack left 10 dead and three wounded. Eleven of the victims were Black, officials said.

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A memorial for the supermarket shooting victims is set up outside the Tops Friendly Market on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. N.Y.

A memorial for the supermarket shooting victims is set up outside the Tops Friendly Market on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

According to prosecutors, "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."

He could face life imprisonment or the death penalty if convicted of the federal charges.

He is also facing murder, domestic terrorism and other charges in the state of New York.