Payton Gendron, who murdered 10 people in a mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York in May 2022, pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges in November and faced a sentencing hearing for his crimes on Wednesday.
Gendron had to be hustled out of the courtroom by guards in the middle of that hearing, however, after a presumed relative of one of the victims attempted to rush across the room and physically assault the convicted murderer, CBS News reported.
The hearing eventually resumed and the killer was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 10 murders and “domestic terrorism motivated by hate.”
The hate crime and terrorism charge, which carries an automatic life sentence, stemmed from the fact that Gendron was an admitted white supremacist who had specifically sought out the grocery store in a predominately black area of Buffalo and had exclusively targeted black shoppers as his victims.
An emotionally charged moment
According to local media outlet WIVB, the incident occurred while relatives of the victims of that mass shooting were delivering victim impact statements before sentencing.
Specifically, a woman named Barbara Mapps, sister of the slain Katherine Massey, was speaking directly toward Gendron in a highly emotional and expletive-laced tirade when a large man moved to stand next to her.
Then, without warning, he suddenly attempted to rush across the courtroom toward Gendron but was stopped by several police officers who had been positioned in the vicinity of the convict — likely to prevent exactly what nearly occurred.
As he was being restrained, other officers swiftly removed the orange jumpsuit-wearing Gendron from the room, and he was followed out immediately by Judge Susan Eagan as well as his defense attorneys just a moment later.
#BREAKING: A man charged at the Buffalo mass shooter during his sentencing and was stopped by officers and ushered out of the courtroom. The incident happened while Barbara Massey, the sister of shooting victim Kat Massey, was speaking. Live coverage: https://t.co/QlrGwOsS1c pic.twitter.com/kAkZUaBr6o
— News 4 Buffalo (@news4buffalo) February 15, 2023
No charges for attempted courtroom assault
WIVB reported that the sentencing hearing was then resumed after a 10-minute break, and the judge immediately addressed what had just happened.
“I understand that emotion and I understand that anger, but we cannot have that in the courtroom,” Judge Eagan said. “I am prepared to give anyone that needs to speak an opportunity to speak and I know that you need to address some of your comments to the defendant, but we must conduct ourselves appropriately, because we are all better than that.”
As for the man who had charged at Gendron, he is alleged to have punched a hole in a wall outside the courtroom after the incident. And according to the Erie County district attorney, he will not face any charges for his attempt to physically attack the convicted killer.
Could still face possible federal charges
CBS News noted that the sentencing hearing for Gendron was for the state-level charges that New York had pressed against him.
He still faces potential federal charges, however, that could result in the death penalty, though that outcome is seen as unlikely given his stated intention to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, per one of his attorneys.