BUFFALO, NY (AP) — The white man charged with the murder of 10 black people at a Buffalo supermarket appeared briefly in court Thursday after a grand jury indicted him for first-degree murder.
Assistant District Attorney Gary Hackbush said the indictment for 18-year-old Payton Gendron was dropped on Wednesday.
Gendron, dressed in an orange prison uniform and mask, remained silent throughout the minute-long proceedings attended by relatives of the victims.
Someone shouted “Payton, you’re a coward!” as he was driven. He is being held in jail without bail.
In New York, prosecutors can charge a defendant with first-degree murder only in special circumstances, including when multiple people are killed in a single incident, such as in the Buffalo shootings. The only count against Gendron covers the 10 deaths at the supermarket.
A total of 13 people were gunned down Saturday at Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo. Authorities continue to investigate possible hate crime and terrorism charges.
Gendron, 18, livestreamed the attack from a helmet camera before turning himself in to police outside the grocery store. Shortly before the attack, he posted hundreds of pages of writings to online discussion groups where he detailed his plans for the attack and his racist motivation.
Investigators reviewed those documents, which included a diary he kept on the Discord chat platform.
In his first court appearance last week, Gendron’s court-appointed attorney pleaded “not guilty” on his behalf. He is due back in court on June 9.
The Tops supermarket massacre was unsettling even in a country that has become almost immune to mass shootings. Of the 13 people shot in the attack, all but two were black. Gendron’s online writings indicate that he planned the assault after becoming infatuated with the white supremacist ideology he encountered online.
The newspaper says Gendron planned his attack in secret, without outside help, but Discord confirmed on Wednesday that an invitation to access his private writings was sent to a small group of people about 30 minutes before the assault began. .
Some of them accepted the invitation. It’s unclear how many read what he wrote or tuned in to see the attack live. It was also unclear whether anyone had attempted to alert law enforcement.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said investigators are working to obtain, verify and review Gendron’s online postings.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday authorized State Attorney General Letitia James to investigate the social media platforms used by Gendron to determine whether they were responsible for “providing a platform to plan and promote the violence “.