The white supremacist who killed 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of probation after hearing relatives of the victims express their grief and anger over his racist attack.
Payton Gendron’s sentencing hearing was briefly interrupted when a man in the public gallery tried to pounce on him but was immediately stopped. The session resumed about 10 minutes later, with more heartbreaking testimonies from people who lost loved ones.
Gendron, whose hatred was fueled by racist conspiracy theories he read online, wept for part of the day and apologized to the victims in a terse statement. The judge imposed different life sentences without the possibility of release for each of the victims. In addition, she refused to give Gendron juvenile delinquent status, which would have opened up the possibility of his reintegration into society.
“There was nothing rushed or improvised in his conduct. There are no mitigating factors to consider,” Judge Susan Eagan stated.
In November, Gendron pleaded guilty to charges including murder and hate-motivated domestic terrorism. The terrorism charge carries an automatic sentence of life in prison.
Gendron, now 19, donned a bulletproof vest and camera helmet to broadcast live on the internet when perpetrated the massacre on May 14 from last year. He used a semi-automatic rifle, purchased legally, but modified with a high-capacity magazine.
He also faces separate federal charges that could carry the death penalty if requested by the Justice Department. His defense attorney said in December that Gendron is willing to plead guilty in federal court so as not to be executed.
The hearing was interrupted when a man tried to jump on Gendron, as Barbara Massey Mapps was condemning Gendron for killing her 72-year-old sister, Katherine Massey. As Mapps yelled and pointed a finger at Gendron, a person in the public gallery advanced on the defendant but was stopped.
“You don’t know what we’re going through!” the man yelled as he was led out of the room by security guards. For several minutes the relatives hugged each other and tried to calm down.
There were only three survivors among the 13 people Gendron shot, in a premeditated attempt to kill black people.
Among the victims at the Tops Friendly Market supermarket were a church dean, the supermarket security guard, a neighborhood activist, a man going to buy a birthday cake, a grandmother and the mother of a former Buffalo fire chief. Their ages ranged from 32 to 86 years.
Source: VOA Español