The suspect accused of carrying out a massacre in a Tops in Buffalo, New York has pleaded “not guilty” in his initial hearing. The 18-year-old man, Payton S. Gendron, faces one charge of first-degree murder, and authorities expect to see him charged with more crimes for his role in Saturday’s violent attack.
Gendron is accused of driving over 200 miles to a majority-black neighborhood in Buffalo and committing a violent attack that claimed the lives of ten people. Gendron posted a manifesto online before carrying out the attack and streamed the crime live on a service called Twitch.
Gendron is an 18-year-old white man from Conklin, New York, who says in his manifesto that he became radicalized by white supremacist content on social media platforms like 4chan and Discord. Gendron also noted that he was mainly inspired to carry out his attack after witnessing the Christchurch massacre in 2019, which was similarly streamed live to the internet.
Gendron’s manifesto indicates that he ascribes to a fringe supremacist theory called “white replacement,” which postulates that white people are being removed from society by people of other ethnicities. This ridiculous and dangerous viewpoint has motivated white supremacist criminals for decades.
Emotions are running high in Buffalo as Gendron maintains his innocence in the case. After his court hearing Thursday, Gendron was met with boos and jeers from amassed onlookers. One person audibly shouted out “Payton, you’re a coward!”
Many commentators online have shared similar sentiments, accusing Gendron of engaging in racially-motivated terror. Several activist groups have been calling on lawmakers to address the alarming rise of white supremacist rhetoric on fringe online platforms for years.
Gendron’s actions claimed ten lives and left a dark mark on Buffalo’s community. “It’s an eerie feeling to know that he’s being held and we can’t hold ours anymore,” Vern Hall, 61, told reporters. Hall says he once delivered newspapers to 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, a grandmother who lost her life during the attack on Saturday.
“To know that he’s here, to know that he’s here in this city, that he’s sitting, it’s not a comfortable feeling,” Hall continued. Gendron’s felony hearing will reconvene on June 9. In the meantime, a grand jury investigation is underway. Prosecutors in the case have indicated that the grand jury has already voted to indict Grendon for his role in the attack.