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A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Payton Gendron on 27 counts of federal hate crimes and firearms charges in the mass shooting at the Tops grocery store on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, U.S. state of New York, two months ago.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and other Department of Justice officials.
The indictment charges Gendron, 19, of Conklin, New York, with 14 violations of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Shepard-Byrd Act) and 13 firearms offenses in connection with the carnage.
The indictment alleges that on or about May 14, Gendron opened fire with a Bushmaster XM rifle and shot multiple individuals in and around a Tops grocery store, which resulted in the deaths of 10 African Americans, as well as injury to three others.
The indictment charges that Gendron violated the Shepard-Byrd Act by willfully causing the victims' death because of their actual and perceived race and color.
It also charges Gendron with 13 counts of using, carrying, or discharging a firearm in relation to the hate crimes and seeks forfeiture of items, including the weapon used in the shooting.
The indictment further includes special findings alleging, among other things, that Gendron committed the offense after substantial planning and premeditation to commit an act of terrorism.
Upon conviction, the charges in the indictment carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment or the death penalty. Gendron is currently in state custody pending state criminal charges.