Payton Gendron in Buffalo court after mass shooting

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BUFFALO — Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old charged with the murder of 10 people in a supermarket here less than a week ago, is due to appear before a judge on Thursday who may be asked to decide whether he can remain in custody while an investigation is continuing.

Gendron will be in a courtroom for the second time since his arrest Saturday at a Tops supermarket about two miles from the courthouse in a predominantly black neighborhood. Authorities say the alleged white supremacist targeted this community because of the hatred he harbored for minorities, fueled by an obsession with false white replacement theories proliferating on the internet.

New York law gives a defendant who is in custody after a felony arrest the right to a hearing unless charged promptly, usually within five days. If prosecutors from the Erie County District Attorney’s Office advise Thursday that a grand jury has already indicted Gendron, no hearing will be required. Alternatively, a judge may hear evidence to decide whether Gendron can remain in the county jail, where he has been held without bail since his arraignment hours after the shooting.

On May 17, President Biden chastised white supremacy in remarks remembering the victims of the May 14 Buffalo supermarket shooting. (Video: The Washington Post)

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Gendron’s lawyer could also waive the deadline.

The next steps in the case are expected to be disclosed during Thursday’s proceedings, which are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. before Buffalo City Court Chief Judge Craig D. Hannah.

According to police, Gendron traveled for three hours from his home in Conklin, NY, to target African Americans with his Bushmaster XM-15 rifle. He is believed to have posted a screed online which revealed a paranoid obsession with a racist conspiracy theory claiming white Americans are intentionally replaced by non-white immigrants.

He pleaded not guilty to the state murder charges. The US Department of Justice is investigating the killings as a possible hate crime.

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The shooting victims included elderly customers and a retired Buffalo police officer working as a security guard at the store. Authorities say the officer, Aaron Salter Jr., died trying to stop the rampage.

At the Gendrons’ home in Conklin on Wednesday, days after the property in a quiet area of ​​lush, sprawling lawns near Binghamton was searched by the FBI, no one answered the door. The driveway was empty except for a portable basketball hoop anchored by sandbags.

On the porch was a round cement weight that seemed to be a holdover from Gendron’s preschool days. The weight, which held up one corner of a mat, had the mold of a tiny right hand and a quarter-sized heart engraved next to the thumb. “PAYTON” and “2008” were printed above and below the handprint.

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As they left Susquehanna Valley High School, where Gendron graduated last year, students streamed into a parking lot behind a long fence emblazoned with the message “SV [HEART] BUFFALO”, visible to anyone passing through the center of the small town.

Nearby, at Conklin Reliable Market, a road sign read, “Prayers for the People of Buffalo: United in Sorrow.”

Gendron worked at the store from July to September 2021 and was seen by co-workers as an introvert, said owner John Gage, who said he did not recall his former employee getting into altercations with other people. in the store.

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Gage said Gendron gave his two weeks’ notice last year without much discussion, except for a mention that he was leaving to go to school. He enrolled at SUNY Broome Community College, where a spokeswoman said his enrollment officially ended in March.

Gage said the Conklin community is tolerant – pointing out that Gendron’s alleged racism does not reflect the feelings of most people in the city.

“I feel 100%… for the people who have been through this,” the 53-year-old business owner said. “Our community and God is watching over them, and I hope this brings them comfort.”

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