Buffalo store mass shooter receives life in prison during tense sentencing hearing for racist attack


BUFFALO, NY — The 19-year-old white gunman who killed 10 black people in a Buffalo supermarket last year was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole during an emotional hearing that was briefly interrupted after a man charged against him.

The dramatic moment came when the sister of the victim Katherine Massey addressed the shooter, Payton Gendron, ahead of his sentencing for the racist May 14 massacre at Tops Friendly Markets.

Nine of the 10 people killed in a shooting at a Buffalo supermarket. Above, from left to right, Katherine Massey, Aaron Salter, Pearly Young, Ruth Whitfield and Celestine Chaney. Bottom, Heyward Patterson, Roberta Drury, Andre (Elliott) Mackneil, and Margus Morrison.

“You don’t know anything about blacks. we are human. We like our children to go to good schools. We love our children. We never go into any neighborhood to get people out,” Barbara Massey told the gunman.

As he continued to address the shooter, a man in a gray tracksuit ran towards Gendron, who was led from the courtroom. Authorities surrounded the unidentified man, prompting a short break.

Erie County Judge Susan Egan spoke about the tense moment after everyone returned to the courtroom.

“I am sure all of you are disturbed by the physicality we have seen in the courtroom today. I understand that emotion. And I understand that anger. But we can’t have that in the courtroom,” he said.

“We have to behave appropriately because we are all better than that,” Egan added.

Then the statements of the victims were resumed.

Christopher Braden, who was shot in the leg, spoke about the impact the shooting had on him. He was one of three people injured in the attack.

Braden said he has PTSD, has had four surgeries, and has two more to go.

“Your actions changed my life completely… I have night terrors that wake me up in the middle of the night. It takes me 15 minutes to get out of bed,” she said.

Gendron also addressed the court, telling the victims and the world that he did not want anyone to be inspired by him.

“I did a terrible thing that day. I shot and killed people because they were black. Looking back now, I can’t believe I actually did it. I believed what I read online and acted hatefully and now I can’t take it back but I wish I could,” she said.

Gendron’s apology was little comfort to Massey’s relatives, Ruth Whitfield, Pearly Young, Roberta Drury, Heyward Patterson, Celestine Chaney, Andre Mackneil, Margus Morrison, Geraldine Talley and Tops security guard Aaron Salter, the people who died in the shooting.

“You don’t mean any of that sh*t,” a woman yelled.

Through tears, Egan thanked the victims and their families for sharing their feelings with the court.

“It’s very significant to me and I think it’s important that the defendant and the world hear what you have to say,” he said.

More coverage of the mass shooting at the Buffalo supermarket

Authorities said Gendron was dressed in tactical gear when he unleashed a burst of bullets in the Tops parking lot. He broadcast the attack on the social media platform Twitch before he was removed.

He fatally shot three people and wounded one in the parking lot before entering the store, where Salter confronted him. Authorities said Salter’s shots did not penetrate Gendron’s ballistic equipment, and the gunman shot and killed the security guard before shooting others.

A document Gendron posted online claimed he had become radicalized and appeared to adhere to the false replacement theory, which has been used by white murderers to justify violence against Muslims, Latinos and Jews around the world.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Gendron lived hours away and drove to Buffalo to carry out the crime. The document said he chose Buffalo because it was the city with the most black residents near his home. Thirteen people, including 11 blacks and two whites, were shot during the massacre.

Gendron also faces 27 federal charges including murder, firing a firearm and hate crimes. If he is found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison or the death penalty. The attorney general will decide whether he seeks the death penalty, the Justice Department said in a Press release. He pleaded not guilty in July.

Tops Friendly Markets reopened in July after undergoing extensive renovations.

Marcus Morris, 27, of East Buffalo, said he had to pray before getting out of his vehicle and going into the store Tuesday for the first time. His uncle, Margus Morrison, was among the 10 killed.

“Your chest definitely feels a little heavy just pulling. I sat in the car and said a little prayer before I got out for all the victims, especially my uncle,” Morris said.

“You can’t stop thinking about it when you go there,” he added.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

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