Physical Altercation at Buffalo Shooter’s Sentencing Hearing

February 15, 2023

A man lunged at the mass shooter who killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo, New York supermarket during his sentencing hearing Wednesday morning.

According to NBC News reporter Rehema Ellis, “A man came out of seemingly nowhere and attempted to lunge at 19-year-old Payton Gendron.” 

On May 14, Gendron had traveled about 200 miles from his hometown to Buffalo, wore military gear and live-streamed via a helmet camera his mass shooting, which also left three people wounded.

He pleaded guilty in November to charges that included murder and domestic terrorism motivated by hate. The terrorism charge carries an automatic life sentence. 

Just prior to the altercation at Wednesday’s hearing Barbara Massey, the sister of 72-year-old victim Katherine Massey, was giving her impact statement.

“And it was a very raw, emotional statement,” said Ellis. “She looked right at Payton Gendron and said that ‘I will hurt you so bad. You don’t know Black people. You drove all the way from where you lived [to Buffalo] to do this terrible thing.’ And while she said that, then this man lunged at him.” 

A security staffer got between the lunging man and Gendron and took Gendron from the courtroom. After a short break, Gendron returned and Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan restarted the hearing.

Gendron’s victims at the Tops Friendly Market included a church deacon, the grocery store’s guard, a neighborhood activist, a man shopping for a birthday cake, several grandmothers and the mother of a former Buffalo fire commissioner. The victims ranged in age from 32 to 86.

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 because it was in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

Gendron was sentenced to the guaranteed life in prison punishment for domestic terror. However, he also faces separate federal charges that could carry a death sentence if the Department of Justice chooses to seek it. New York state does not have a death penalty.

The Buffalo shooting, along with the mass shooting in June at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 children and two teachers dead, were among the final factors to spark Congress last year to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—the first major federal gun safety legislation in decades.

On Tuesday the DOJ announced it would disperse $231 million to the 50 states and DC from the $1.4 billion that the legislation allocates to the Justice Department over five years for gun violence prevention measures.

Also following the Buffalo shooting, New York state legislators passed a law banning semiautomatic rifle sales to most people under age 21. The state also banned sales of some types of body armor. The law went into effect in early September.

And in December Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown led the city in a lawsuit against more than 30 firearms manufacturers, including Glock, Smith & Wesson, Remington and Bushmaster, seeking to hold them liable for contributing to a condition that “endangers the safety and health of the public.”

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