The white gunman accused of targeting and killing 10 Black people and injuring three other individuals at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday on hate crimes and firearm charges, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Payton Gendron, now 19, is facing 27 counts — including 10 hate crimes resulting in death and three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill, along with 13 counts of using, carrying or discharging a firearm — following the deadly racist attack at the Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
“The Justice Department fully recognizes the threat that white supremacist violence poses to the safety of the American people and American democracy,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a news release.
“We will continue to be relentless in our efforts to combat hate crimes, to support the communities terrorized by them, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them,” he added.
If convicted on all 27 counts, Gendron could face either the death penalty or a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. The attorney general will decide at a later date on whether to seek the death penalty, according to the Justice Department.
Gendron has been held without bail since his arrest after the May 14 shooting.
Last month, the suspect pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder as a hate crime and 10 counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime, in addition to three counts of attempted second-degree murder as a hate crime, when appearing in federal court, according to The Associated Press.
This week marks exactly two months since the mass shooting took place, and Tops supermarket is set to officially reopen its doors to the community Friday morning.
The store, which has been completely remodeled since the shooting, will “quietly and respectfully reopen” to the community Friday, officials said.
Company officials held a gathering along with a moment of silence and prayer on Thursday before the reopening — honoring the victims and employees impacted by the mass shooting.
News of the supermarket’s reopening comes after the president of Tops Friendly Markets, John Persons, told reporters last month that the store was emptied of its products and equipment and will reopen with a different feel and look, according to Buffalo TV station WKBW.
“Our effort has been towards trying to reopen the store as soon as possible, and we will do it in a respectful way. We will do it properly,” Persons told reporters.
The Tops supermarket opened in Buffalo’s East Side neighborhood in July 2003.