By Melanie Eversley & Nanette D. Massey
NABJ Black News & Views
Payton Gendron, accused in the May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo that left 10 people dead, will plead guilty to 25 state charges, The Buffalo News is reporting.
Gendron, who police describe as a white supremacist, is accused of opening fire at Tops supermarket on Buffalo’s predominantly Black East and livestreaming the massacre. Along with the 10 people who were killed, three suffered injuries.
The News credited word of the development to Garnell Whitfield, the son of shooting victim Ruth Whitfield. Garnell Whitfield said the victims’ families were told of Gendron’s plans, but he said the larger issue is the racism in society that caused the tragedy to happen.
“Whether he lives or dies is not the important thing – it is the system we are fighting,” Whitfield told the news organization. “It is the prejudicial system in place that has allowed white supremacy, redlining, miseducation, lack of opportunity, all the things that have been in place since the beginning of this country that we are fighting,” he said.
On that day in mid May, Gendron armed himself with a Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifle and drove 210 miles, three-and-a-half hours from his hometown of Conklin, New York, near Binghamton. He was looking for a place with the highest possible random concentration of Black people.
An Erie County, New York, grand jury indicted Gendron on 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder, first-degree domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate, three counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, the News reported.,
Lawyer John Elmore, who is representing two of the victims, told the news organization, “As a lawyer with death penalty experience, I can tell you that Gendron’s lawyers are just trying to save his life. The evidence against him is overwhelming.”