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18-year-old accused in Buffalo mass shooting faces 25 counts

The indictment from an Erie County grand jury includes multiple hate crimes, murder, and domestic terrorism charges.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — An Erie County grand jury returned a 25 count indictment Wednesday for the white 18-year-old accused of killing 10 black people at the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue last month.

Peyton Gendron faces 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime, 3 counts of attempted murder as a hate crime, one for domestic terrorism motivated by hate, and a weapons charge.

Gendron, who has been in custody since the tragedy on May 14 is scheduled to be arraigned on all charges Thursday at 2 p.m. in Erie County Court.

2 On Your Side Legal Analyst Barry Covert called the lengthy indictment "the most significant" one he has ever read from Erie County for several reasons.

“When it comes to the number of victims, the level of the offenses involved, and the brand new charge, it's only a two-year-old statute, of domestic terrorism, they took many weeks to put this together,” Covert said.

While criminal cases can be unpredictable, Covert does not think the indictment goes too far and could backfire on prosecutors. He said that given that just one murder conviction would amount to life in prison, it would be a tall order for Gendron's assigned attorney to argue against the evidence; which includes writings that laid out the attack and Gendron's alleged intentions.

“Given that this is really one of the most heinous crimes committed in the area it's not surprising that it would lead to such a significant and substantive indictment,” Covert said. 

In fact, Covert added that a future federal indictment on hate-related or terrorism charges could mean an even steeper penalty, death.

Attorney John Elmore, who is representing the families of victims Andre Mackniel and Katherine "Kat" Massey, is seeking separate legal action related to their deaths. He has partnered with another law firm from Connecticut that previously sued gun manufacturers after the Sandy Hook shooting and won.

Elmore had not spoken with the families following the release of the indictment before he spoke with 2 On Your Side but he said he was "not surprised" by its substantiality.

“We're going to get information wherever we can to the extent that this case, that this indictment leads us to those responsible then we're going to utilize it,” said Elmore.

On top of the manufacturers of the weapons used in the Buffalo mass shooting, Elmore added that body armor manufacturers could also be fair game.

Unlike a typical murder charge, Erie County prosecutors will have the added task of proving the hate-related aspects of charges in the indictment but similar to Covert, Elmore thinks the evidence is overwhelming.

“This guy is going to get convicted of every single count, he can fight and squirm, the defense can challenge with every motion they can but he's never going to see the light of day."

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