The 19-year-old white gunman, who killed 10 black men at a Buffalo grocery store last year, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Wednesday during an emotional hearing that was briefly adjourned after a man attacked him.
The dramatic moment came when a victim’s sister, Kathryn Massey, spoke to the gunman, Payton Gendron, before he was convicted of the May 14 racist massacre at Tops Friendly Markets.
“You don’t know a damn thing about Black people. We’re human. We like our kids to go to good schools. We love our kids. We never go to no neighborhoods to take people out,” Barbara Massey told the gunman.
As she continued to address the shooter, a man in a gray suit ran towards Gendron, who was quickly carried out of the courtroom. Authorities surrounded the unidentified man, leading to a brief hiatus.
The man will not be charged, said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn, who told reporters at a news conference Wednesday afternoon he understood emotions ran high during the sentencing.
Christopher Braden, who was shot in the leg, said the massacre changed his life. He was one of three people injured in the attack.
Braden said he suffers from PTSD, has had four surgeries and is planning two more.
Gendron also addressed the court, apologizing to the victims and telling the world he didn’t want anyone to be inspired by him.
“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 the hate, and now I can’t take it back, but I wish I could,” he said.
Gendron’s apology was small consolation for Massie’s relatives Ruth Whitfield, Pearly Young, Roberta Drury, Howard Patterson, Celestine Chaney, Andre MacNeil, Margus Morrison, Geraldine Talley and Topps Security Aaron Salter, the people who died in the shooting.
Authorities said Gendron was wearing tactical gear when he fired a series of bullets in the Topps car park. He broadcast the attack on the social media platform Twitch before the broadcast was shut down.
He killed three people and wounded one in a parking lot before entering the store, where he was confronted by Salter. Authorities said that Salter’s bullets did not appear to have penetrated Gendron’s ballistic equipment and that the gunman shot the guard before firing at others.
In a document published online, Gendron said he was a radical and seemed to agree with the “false substitution” theory used by white killers to justify violence against Muslims, Latinos and Jews around the world.