A white man accused of killing 10 Black people and wounding three others in a racist attack at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store on Saturday was indicted by a grand jury on Thursday on a first-degree murder charge.
Payton Gendron, 18, was first arraigned on Saturday and pleaded not guilty. Local and federal authorities were also investigating the possibility of terrorism and hate crime charges.
Authorities said Gendron had traveled more than three hours from Conklin, N.Y., to the Tops Friendly Markets grocery store specifically to carry out the attack in the predominantly Black neighborhood.
In court on Thursday, someone yelled “Payton, you’re a coward!” at Gendron as he was escorted from the room. His next scheduled court appearance is June 9.
On Monday, local police confirmed that Gendron had visited the Buffalo store on March 8, seemingly to scope out the area. A security guard confronted him as he was taking down details about the location, a document obtained by ABC News shows.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told law enforcement during a call on Monday that the mass shooting was inspired by the Christchurch, New Zealand, attack on two mosques that left 51 people dead in 2019.
Authorities said they were investigating a hate-filled manifesto that Gendron appeared to have posted online in the hours leading up to the deadly attack. The document they believe Gendron wrote “substantially mirrored the New Zealand manifesto,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said on the call.
“Both discuss immigration and population and issues at length for replacing the white race in population growth,” Garcia said, referring to the “great replacement” — a racist conspiracy theory based on the idea that white people are being displaced by minorities.
Gendron allegedly wrote: “Why buffalo? Buffalo was chosen because it has the highest black population percentage and isn’t that far away.”
According to authorities, Gendron’s writings included a private diary, which they said showed he had planned the attack on his own. However, he shared the documents on the social media chat platform Discord with a small group of people 30 minutes before the attack.
Officials also say Gendron livestreamed the attack on Twitch from a camera mounted on his helmet.
On Wednesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul vowed to investigate the social media platforms and authorized state Attorney General Letitia James to launch an investigation to determine if sites such as Twitch, 4chan, 8chan and Discord are liable for “providing a platform to plan and promote violence.”
Jana Winter contributed reporting to this story.