“You will never see the light of day as a free man again,” said Judge Susan Eagan to Payton Gendron, the 19-year-old Conklin, New York resident who purposefully murdered 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket simply because of his hatred for Black people.
Eagan sentenced Gendron to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his heinous acts — 10 counts of first-degree murder and a single count of hate-motivated domestic terrorism to which the perpetrator pleaded guilty — in a sentencing hearing that was interrupted several times by the justifiably heightened emotions of the survivors of the attack and the families of Gendron’s victims.
Before the sentence was announced, the victim’s families were allowed to address the racist murderer directly in court, and they pulled no punches as they told the man who killed their loved ones exactly what they thought of him.
Simone Crawley, who lost her 86-year-old grandmother Ruth Whitfield to Gendron’s bullets told the shooter that he is “a cowardly racist.”
“You recorded the last moments of our loved ones’ lives to garner support for your hateful cause, but you immortalized them instead,” Crawley added. “We are extremely aware that you are not a lone wolf, but a part of a larger organized network of domestic terrorists. And to that network, we say we, as a people, are unbreakable.”
Zeneta Everhart, the mother of one survivor of the shooting, planted words that could haunt Grendon as he rots in his cell for decades to come.
“The world says you have to forgive in order to move on. But I stand before you today to say that will never happen,” she told him.
The most dramatic moment of the hearing came during the public comment section when one attendee could no longer control their anger and surged toward the convicted defendant in an assumed attempt to pummel him as another person testified to the damage Grendon had caused.
Convicted Buffalo Mass Shooter Payton Gendron was lunged at during his sentencing.#Buffalo #BuffaloNY #BuffaloMassacre pic.twitter.com/MrcLMFC4Us
— Mคﻮเợ (@Magiq1) February 15, 2023
The courtroom was cleared after that understandable incident and after the proceedings recommenced, Judge Eagan condemned the convicted killer’s motives and the white supremacy and institutional racism endemic to American society that spawned his premeditated actions, calling them an “insidious cancer on our society and nation.”
The Buffalo judge sentencing the white man who killed 10 Black people at a supermarket spoke about the ongoing existence of white supremacy in the U.S.
“This hateful act, and other similar hateful acts across the country… are a reckoning for us as a nation.” pic.twitter.com/4f7GvFXjzW
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 15, 2023
Given the opportunity to speak after his sentencing, Payton Gendron — who had been witnessed with tears streaming down his face as the speakers condemned him — offered a few words of apology, saying he was “very sorry” for his actions while admitting the animus that motivated him.
“I shot and killed people because they were Black,” the muderer said. “Looking back now, I can’t believe I actually did.”
Gendron’s meager apology did not sit well with the victims’ families.
“How can you possibly stand up here and say you are sorry?” said Brian Talley, the brother of one victim, Geraldine Talley. “I watched my sister get shot by you. You treated it like a video game.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown also slammed the apology as “much too little, much too late.”
While nothing can bring back the lives of Gendron’s victims, some of their families were happy for the convicted killer to be sentenced to life in prison without parole because it would force him to be haunted by his guilt for the rest of his life.
Buffalo District Attorney John J. Flynn expressed his own satisfaction with the sentence meted out today.
“This defendant needed to be removed from society, taken off the streets and put behind bars for the rest of his life, and he was,” Mr. Flynn said. “And that gives me some satisfaction.”
Let’s hope that Payton Gendron’s fate will serve as a cautionary tale for any racist White supremacists who may be inspired to transform their hateful ideology into murderous actions.
Original reporting by Jesse McKinley and
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