The suspected gunman who killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket will face federal hate crime charges and potentially the death penalty, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday (June 15).
The charges against alleged shooter Payton Gendron, 18, follow Attorney General Merrick Garland's meeting with the victims' families and visit to Tops supermarket. Gendron is accused of shooting 13 people, 11 of whom were Black, on May 14.
According to a criminal complaint, documents found in Gendron's home and on his laptop after the shooting revealed the 18-year-old set out to kill "as many Blacks as possible" out of concern "for the future of the white race."
Following discussions with the victims' loved ones, Garland said in a statement, "No one in this country should have to live in fear that they will go to work or shop at a grocery store and will be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin."
According to CNN, the suspect has been charged with 10 counts of hate crime resulting in death, three counts involving bodily injury, 10 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a violent crime, and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a violent crime.
Due to the nature of the charges, Gendron could face the death penalty. A temporary hold has been placed on federal executions, but Garland will ultimately decide whether to seek the death penalty.
In regards to the death penalty decision, Garland said, "The Justice Department has a series of procedures it follows ... The families and the survivors would be consulted."
On Wednesday, Garland laid 10 roses at the site of the racially-fueled massacre — one for each life lost.
"In the days and weeks since the attack, we have all witnessed the strength of this community's bonds, its resilience, and its love," Garland said in a statement. "I am humbled to have just felt that firsthand in my discussions with the families. Hate-fueled acts of violence terrorize not only the individuals who are attacked but entire communities. Hate brings immediate devastation and it inflicts lasting fear."
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