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The Buffalo supermarket gunman won't pursue a psychiatric defense in his state case

The gunman charged with killing 10 Black people and injuring three other individuals in the mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket in May will not be pursuing a psychiatric defense in his state case, officials say. Here, people pay their respects at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the mass shooting a few days after it occurred.
Matt Rourke
/
AP
The gunman charged with killing 10 Black people and injuring three other individuals in the mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket in May will not be pursuing a psychiatric defense in his state case, officials say. Here, people pay their respects at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the mass shooting a few days after it occurred.

The 19-year-old white gunman accused of targeting and killing 10 Black people and injuring three other individuals at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket this year will not be pursuing a psychiatric defense in his case.

The deadline for the attorneys representing Payton Gendron, the accused gunman in the mass shooting, to file a notice of pursuing a psychiatric defense was set for last Thursday, according to a recent report by The Buffalo News.

In an emailed statement to NPR, a spokesperson for the New York State Unified Court System said the defense has "neither filed a notice nor requested an extension to do so."

The spokesperson, however, did not comment on whether the defense team would request a reopening of a psychiatric defense.

Gendron was scheduled to appear in court last week, but according to The Buffalo News, the Erie County District Attorney's Office announced that his case had been adjourned until Jan. 12, 2023 — citing a request by the defense to "review discovery material."

NPR reached out to the Erie County District Attorney's Office with a request for comment and clarification on the case's adjournment but did not immediately hear back.

At the federal level, Gendron is facing 27 counts — including 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death and three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill, along with 13 counts of using, carrying or discharging a firearm — following the deadly racist attack at the Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo.

In July, the 19-year-old was indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crimes and firearm charges, according to the U.S. Justice Department. He has been held without bail since his arrest after the May 14 shooting.

Payton Gendron (second from right), the gunman charged in the deadly mass shooting in May at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., appears at a court hearing on May 19.
Matt Rourke / AP
/
AP
Payton Gendron (second from right), the gunman charged in the deadly mass shooting in May at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., appears at a court hearing on May 19.

"The Justice Department fully recognizes the threat that white supremacist violence poses to the safety of the American people and American democracy," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in an earlier news release.

"We will continue to be relentless in our efforts to combat hate crimes, to support the communities terrorized by them, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them," he added.

If Gendron is convicted on all 27 counts, he could face either the death penalty or a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. The attorney general will decide at a later date on whether to seek the death penalty, according to the Justice Department.

The department recently announced the launch of an initiative aimed at combating unlawful acts of hate across Buffalo.

The newly created United Against Hate initiative will connect federal, state and local law enforcement with marginalized communities to "build trust" and encourage people to report hate crimes and incidents.

The initiative is part of a broader effort that the Justice Department plans to launch across all 94 U.S. attorneys' offices over the next year, officials said.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.