Buffalo shooting suspect indicted on terrorism, murder charges

A grand jury returned an indictment for the suspect in a mass shooting that took place in Buffalo, N.Y. last month, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to The Hill.

The grand jury charged Payton Gendron with domestic terrorism and 10 counts of first-degree murder, The Associated Press reported.

Officials had been probing the shooting as a racially motivated hate crime. The suspect is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday at 2 p.m., an Erie County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson told The Hill.

The district attorney’s office confirmed an indictment had been reported to the court but declined to release the indictment or the charges to The Hill.

“We cannot comment on the charges until after the arraignment has occurred, which is also part of the agreement regarding the gag order filed by defense counsel,” the spokesperson said.

The indictment comes after the suspect allegedly drove about three hours from his home to a predominantly Black neighborhood, where he shot and killed 10 people and injured three others at a grocery store. Eleven of the 13 victims were Black. 

The suspect had reportedly invited people to a chatroom on the messaging platform Discord just before the shooting. The suspect’s private server contained racist content and plans dating back as far as six months.

In online writings ahead of the shooting, the suspect touted the so-called great replacement theory, a far-right conspiracy theory that claims there is a politically motivated push to replace white Americans with people of color by encouraging immigration. 

The massacre and a mass shooting days later at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, have thrust debate over gun control into the national spotlight once more.

President Biden pledged on Tuesday to meet with lawmakers about enacting gun legislation. A bipartisan group of senators have been meeting to try to find common ground, with a focus on red flag laws and strengthening background checks for firearm purchases. However, its unclear at the point if those talks will bear any fruit.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said following the shooting his department would do more to combat hate crime in the U.S.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Buffalo to meet with the victims’ families earlier this month, and Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff attended a funeral for one of the victims over the weekend.