Buffalo suspect pleads not guilty to federal hate crime charges

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The suspect behind the racist Buffalo supermarket massacre that killed 10 in May pleaded not guilty to 27 federal hate crime and firearm charges Monday.

During an arraignment hearing, a defense lawyer for the now 19-year-old suspect expressed her desire to resolve the case before a trial and hinted the suspect could eventually switch his plea to guilty in pursuit of a deal, CBS News reported.

BUFFALO MASS SHOOTING SUSPECT INDICTED ON FEDERAL HATE CRIME CHARGES

A federal grand jury indicted suspect Payton Gendron on the federal charges last week, which include 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, 13 counts of using, carrying, or discharging a firearm in connection with the hate crimes, and three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill.

“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 in a press release last week announcing the charges. “We will continue to be relentless in our efforts to combat hate crimes, to support the communities terrorized by them, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them.”

The arraignment took place in the Erie County Courthouse. Gendron was largely silent during the hearing, donning an orange jumpsuit and shackles, per the report. Gendron had been apprehended by authorities after the shooting spree, in which three were injured and 10 black individuals were killed. Several relatives of the victims attended the hearing.

“It’s hard,” said Zeneta Everhart, whose son was injured in the attack, per Fox News. “My son is still recovering from gunshot wounds. It’s hard sitting in that courtroom with a terrorist.”

Officials believe Gendron specifically targeted the Tops Market grocery store in a predominantly black Buffalo neighborhood on May 14. Investigators recovered a 180-page manifesto in which the suspect allegedly embarked on racist tirades and spewed the “great replacement theory,” which maintains elites in society are banding together to supplant white people with nonwhite people.

He allegedly wore body armor and livestreamed part of his shooting rampage.

The Justice Department has not ruled out the prospect of pursuing the death penalty against the suspect but has said a decision on whether it will pursue that is forthcoming, according to a release. Depending on that decision, Gendron could face the death penalty or up to life in prison if convicted.

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In tandem with the federal charges against him, the suspect is also facing dozens of criminal charges in New York state, including 10 counts of murder in the second degree as a hate crime, 10 counts of murder in the first degree, three counts of attempted murder in the second degree, an armed felony, and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, an armed felony.

The suspect pleaded not guilty to the state charges and is being held in state custody. His next appearance in federal court is slated for Dec. 9 for a status conference.