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By CAROLYN THOMPSON and MICHAEL HILL
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The man who killed 10 people in a racist mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket plans to plead guilty to all of the state charges against him, according to lawyers representing families of the victims.
Payton Gendron, 19, is scheduled to appear in court Monday, according to court records. His lawyers didn’t respond to phone messages or emails Thursday and prosecutors declined to comment on the nature of the court appearance.
John Elmore, an attorney for the families of two of the 10 Black people who were killed in the shooting, said Gendron’s lawyers disclosed in recent weeks that he planned to plead guilty to all of the counts in the state indictment and waive his right to appeal. Elmore said he was willing to confirm the plan following news reports about the expected plea Thursday.
Terrence M. Connors, who is representing relatives of seven of the victims, said Gendron’s lawyers also briefed him about the plan.
“We had known for some time that it is likely that on Monday, he will enter a plea of guilty to each and every count in the 25-count indictment, and that when sentencing comes, he will receive a sentence of life in prison without parole,” Connors said.
A grand jury in June indicted Gendron on charges of murder and attempted murder, as well as state domestic terrorism and hate crime charges that would carry a mandatory life sentence.
Gendron, who is white, also faces separate federal hate crime charges that could carry the death penalty.
Gendron drove about three hours to Buffalo from his home in Conklin, New York, intending to kill as many Black people as possible at a store he chose because of its location in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Shortly before opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle on May 14, he posted documents that outlined his white supremacist views and revealed he had been planning the attack for months.
The victims, who ranged in age from 32 to 86, included eight customers, the store security guard and a church deacon who drove shoppers to and from the store with their groceries. Three people were wounded but survived.
A spokeswoman for Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said the office could not comment on the reported plea because of a court-imposed gag order.
Connors, who is working with civil rights attorney Ben Crump on the case, said those involved agreed not to disclose the development publicly until the hearing was entered into the court schedule, which happened Thursday.
“This is but one chapter of accountability for this horrible tragedy. And there are more chapters to come,” Connors said. “The families right now are focused on doing what they can to bring something positive to East Buffalo out of this horrible tragedy.”
Asked about the reported plea at a news conference to discuss preparations for an impending winter storm, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Byron Brown said the families need justice.
“It is going to be difficult for the families, it will open up that wound again,” Brown said, “but I think it’s good that this individual is pleading guilty.”
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