The man who pleaded guilty to killing 10 Black people in a racist mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket, was removed from a courtroom Wednesday after someone rushed toward him.
Payton Gendron, 19, is set to the sentenced to life in prison.
Family members of several victims spoke about their loved ones during Gendron’s sentencing hearing in Erie County Court, where he pleaded guilty in November to more than a dozen charges, including murder and domestic terrorism motivated by hate.
Gendron was briefly taken from the courtroom after a person lunged at him while a victim’s sister delivered an emotional victim impact statement. The person was restrained by officers.
“I am sure that you are all disturbed by the physicality that we’ve seen in the courtroom here today,” Judge Susan Eagan said when court resumed. “I understand that emotion and I understand the anger, but we cannot have that in the courtroom.”
What happened at Tops Friendly Market?
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Gendron shot 13 people with a semiautomatic rifle at Tops Friendly Market on May 14. Just three people survived the attack, which Gendron livestreamed. The victims ranged in age from 32 to 86 and included a church deacon, the grocery store’s guard, a neighborhood activist, a man shopping for a birthday cake, a grandmother of nine and the mother of a former Buffalo fire commissioner.
In documents posted online, Gendron said he hoped the attack would help preserve white power in the U.S. He wrote that he picked the Tops grocery store, about a three-hour drive from his home in Conklin, New York, because it was in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
Gendron also faces separate federal hate crime charges. His guilty plea on the state charges is could potentially help avoid a death sentence in the penalty phase of any federal trial. In a December hearing, defense attorney Sonya Zoghlin said Gendron is prepared to enter a guilty plea in federal court in exchange for a life sentence.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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