An 18-year-old man suspected of fatally shooting ten people in what officials described as a racially motivated spree appeared in court Thursday and was referred to as a “coward” by someone in attendance.
Payton Gendron, the suspect, was flanked by court police as he entered the Buffalo City Court wearing an orange jumpsuit, a white face mask, and chains on his legs and hands. Under his jumpsuit, Gendron appeared to be wearing a ballistic vest.
A grand jury indicted him for first-degree murder, according to prosecutors, but the accusations are still under secret.
The one-minute hearing on Thursday was deferred by Judge Craig D. Hannah. Because Gendron has been indicted, the judge has scheduled his next hearing for June 9, when he is expected to be arraigned on counts in the grand jury indictment.
Three court-appointed attorneys represented Gendron at the hearing.
The grand jury indictment of Gendron was handed up on Wednesday, according to Erie County Assistant District Attorney Gary Hackbush.
The courtroom was packed with relatives and family members of the victims slain in the shooting at a supermarket store on Saturday. Gendron was escorted in and out of the building.
As he fled the courthouse, a woman in the gallery was overheard saying, “Payton, you’re a coward.”
“The suspect has been imprisoned without bail since his arrest. Our office will not make any additional statements until the Grand Jury issue a report “According to a statement released by Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. “The defendant is deemed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law, as do all others accused of a crime.”
In court, Gendron remained silent.
Following the carnage at a Tops Friendly Market on Saturday afternoon, Gendron was initially accused with one count of murder, with police alleging that he purposefully targeted Black individuals in the attack he had planned for months. He entered a not guilty plea and was jailed without bail.
According to police, the shooter injured three additional persons, including two white victims.
Additional murder and attempted murder charges, as well as state hate crime charges, are expected to be brought against Gendron. A parallel investigation is being conducted by the FBI, which could lead to federal hate crime and terrorism charges, according to the Department of Justice.
President Joe Biden described the deadly shooting as “domestic terrorism” during his visit to Buffalo on Tuesday.
Six ladies and four men were among the ten victims slain in the attack. One Black victim and two white victims were among the three people injured in the shooting.
Gendron allegedly travelled three hours from his home in Conklin, New York, and spent Friday conducting final reconnaissance on the business before carrying out the horrific shooting on Saturday afternoon, according to investigators.
Authorities say Gendron rushed the store around 2:30 p.m., armed with an AR-15-style rifle and clad in military fatigues, body armour, and a tactical helmet with a camera attached, shooting four people outside and nine inside. During the rampage, the perpetrator fired 50 rounds, according to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.
Gendron allegedly livestreamed the attack on the gaming website Twitch before it was taken down two minutes later, according to police.
Aaron Salter Jr., a 55-year-old retired Buffalo police officer who was working as a security guard at the store, was among those killed. According to authorities, Salter fired at the gunman, but the rounds had little effect owing to the suspect’s protective vest.
According to Gramaglia, Buffalo police officers arrived at the store one minute after receiving the first reports of an active shooter and met the suspect, who responded by putting the rifle barrel to his chin and threatening to kill himself. He claimed the cops were able to de-escalate the situation and persuade Gendron to surrender.
Meanwhile, Tops Friendly Markets stated on Thursday that the store where the shooting took place will reopen.
When police release the store on Jefferson Avenue, which is still designated an active crime scene, Tops will analyse the following steps with the goal of rebuilding and repairing the business as soon as possible for the neighbourhood.
“After that, we’ll need to respectfully adapt our workers and the community at large to the store,” the firm said in a statement. “When the time is right for all of us, we’ll reopen our doors on Jefferson Avenue.” “Until then, we will be here for you and will help you in every way we can. We recognise that we are actually stronger together in our City of Good Neighbors.”