Conklin Teen Expected to Plead Guilty to Buffalo Massacre
Reports from the Associated Press and other sources close to the case of the mass shooting last May at a Buffalo supermarket in an apparent hate crime say the accused Conklin teen is going to enter guilty pleas.
Court records in Erie County show 19-year-old Payton Gendron is scheduled to appear on Monday, November 21 where he reported was planning to plead guilty to all New York State filed charges against him.
The Associated Press credits the information regarding the potential plea to the lawyers representing the families of the 10 victims killed in the May shooting at the Tops Friendly Markets outside of Buffalo.
Gendron’s lawyers had not responded to telephone requests for comment from Associated Press on November 17.
John Elmore, an attorney for the families of two of the 10 Black people who were killed in the shooting, told Associated Press that 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.
Gendron is named in a 25-count indictment, and the victim family lawyers say it’s expected the white Broome County teen will be sentenced to life in prison without parole on the state charges.
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 also faces separate federal hate crime that could carry the death penalty.
Gendron allegedly drove about three hours to Buffalo from his home in Conklin 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 the attack had been planned 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.
The AP report goes on to say 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, November 17.
“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.”