Payton Gendron, the 19-year-old gunman who killed 10 African-Americans and injured three others in a racially motivated attack at a supermarket in New York’s Buffalo city on May 14, has pleaded guilty to charges of murder and terrorism.
The plea means that he will be sentenced to life in prison without parole since New York does not have the death penalty, the BBC reported.
In June, he had pleaded not guilty after a grand jury indicted him on charges of domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree; murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree as a hate crime; attempted murder in the second degree as a hate crime; and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.
This was the first time a grand jury in New York state had ever indicted a defendant on the charge of “domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree”.
Gendron was initially charged with a single count of first-degree murder on May 19.
During the hearing on Monday, Judge Susan Eagan read out names of each of the victims and asked Gendron if he had killed them because of their race.
He also replied “yes” to each charge levelled against him.
The gunman is also facing multiple federal charges over the shooting, which could be punished with the death penalty.
According to the his lawyer Brian Parker, the survivors and relatives of the victims will have the opportunity to address Gendron in court on February 15, 2023.
Gendron drove about three hours from his home to a Black-predominated community in Buffalo on May 14, and carried out the mass shooting at the Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue on Buffalo’s East Side.
The victims ranged in age from 32 to 86.
The Buffalo shooting happened 10 days before another 18-year-old killed 19 children and two teachers on May 24 in a mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The US has suffered more than 600 mass shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Last year, the country saw a staggering number of 690 mass shootings, up from 610 in 2020 and 417 in 2019.