According to CNN the 19-year-old White man who killed 10 people in a racist mass shooting at a grocery store in a predominantly Black area of Buffalo last May cried and said he regretted his actions as he was sentenced to life in prison during an emotional court hearing Wednesday.
“I cannot express how much I regret all the decisions I made leading up to my actions on May 14,” Payton Gendron, wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles, said in court.
“I did a terrible thing that day. I shot and killed people because they were Black. Looking back now, I can’t believe I actually did it. I believed what I read online and acted out of hate. I know I can’t take it back, but I wish I could, and I don’t want anyone to be inspired by me and what I did.”
The statement came during the state sentencing hearing for Gendron, who pleaded guilty in November to one count of domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate, 10 counts of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder and a weapons possession charge for the mass shooting at Tops Friendly Markets on May 14, 2022.
During Wednesday’s hearing, a number of victims’ family members spoke emotionally about how the mass shooting had changed their lives. At one point, Gendron took off his glasses and began crying during the testimony from the victims’ families.
During one such victim statement, a man in a gray sweatshirt rushed at Gendron in court but was quickly blocked by security, and Gendron was taken out of the courtroom.
After a short break, Gendron returned to the courtroom and Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan restarted the hearing.
“We cannot have that in the courtroom,” Eagan said. “We must conduct ourselves appropriately because we are all better than that.”
Many of the victims’ family members had voiced that they wish for Gendron to be sentenced to life in prison, rather than the death penalty, so the shooter will have to suffer with his thoughts for the rest of his life.
The attempted attack came during a particularly intense statement by Barbara Massey, the sister of Katherine Massey, a 72-year-old who was killed in the attack. “I want personally to choke you,” Massey said prior to the incident. “Your little punk a** decided to come here to kill Black people.”
Others offered memories of their loved ones and criticisms of how Gendron’s violent actions and hateful ideology.
“One day I hope you find it in your heart to apologize to those families,” Wayne Jones, the son of Celestine Chaney, said in court.
“I pray to God they do not kill you,” said Brian Talley, family member of shooting victim Geraldine Talley. “You need to be known worldwide … I forgive you, but I forgive you not for your sake, but for mine and for this Black community.”
Christopher Braden, who said he was shot in his leg, said he saw dead bodies on the floor as he was led out of the supermarket to the hospital.
“The visions haunt me every day,” Braden said, adding he continues to suffer from night terrors and post-traumatic stress disorder from the shooting.
Zeneta Everhart, whose son Zaire Goodman was shot and injured, said her son has survivor’s guilt.
“He is dealing with the pain that I as a mother cannot bear,” Everhart said. “On that day this terrorist made the choice that the value of a Black human meant nothing to him … whatever the sentence is that [Gendron] receives, it will never be enough.”
Michelle Spight, who said she lost her aunt and her cousin in the shooting, said she hopes Gendron is haunted every day and every night.
“You came to Buffalo with hatred and anger in your heart,” Spight said, also speaking on behalf of her other family members.
Gendron shot a total of 13 people, including 11 Black people and two White people, authorities said. All the victims killed were Black.