A man lunged at the gunman who killed 10 Black people in a mass shooting at a supermarket during his sentencing hearing in Buffalo, N.Y., on Wednesday. The courtroom had to be cleared and the hearing temporarily halted.
Payton Gendron, who pleaded guilty to carrying out the attack at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y., in May, was formally sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Before his sentencing, relatives of the victims had the opportunity to give impact statements.
One of them, Barbara Massey Mapps, whose 72-year-old sister, Katherine Massey, was killed in the massacre, began her statement by addressing Gendron directly.
“You killed my sister,” she said, describing her as “my best friend.”
She said she wanted choke Gendron, who drove nearly 300 miles from his home in Conklin, N.Y., with an AR-15-style rifle to carry out the attack at Tops Friendly Market, which he livestreamed with a helmet camera.
“You don’t know any Black people,” Massey Mapps said, her voice rising in anger. “Your little punk a** decided to come and kill my sister!
“You don’t know a damn thing about Black people! We’re human!” she screamed.
A man behind her then pushed her to the side and charged at Gendron. He was restrained by officers as Gendron was whisked away, and the hearing was briefly suspended.
"You don't know what we're going through," the man said as he was led out of the courtroom.
“I understand that emotion, and I understand that anger, but we cannot have that in the courtroom,” Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan said after the hearing resumed about 10 minutes later. “We must conduct ourselves appropriately, because we are all better than that.”
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn later said that the man, who was not publicly identified, would not be charged.
Gendron, 19, pleaded guilty in November to 15 state-level counts, including domestic terrorism motivated by hate — a charge that carries a punishment of life in prison without parole.
All 10 of those killed in the May 14 massacre were Black.
Before the killings, Gendron posted a manifesto online detailing his plans to target Buffalo’s Black population. The 180-page manifesto contained a litany of racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories, including the “great replacement” theory, which maintains that people in power are replacing white Americans with people of color through immigration.
Before he was sentenced, Gendron addressed the court.
"I am very sorry for all the pain I forced the victims and their families to suffer through," he said, reading from a sheet of paper. "I am very sorry for stealing the lives of your loved ones.
"I cannot express how much I regret all my decisions leading up to my actions on May 14," he continued. "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."
Eagan then handed down the sentence of life without parole.
"There is no place for you and your ignorant, hateful ideologies in a civilized society," she said. "There can be no mercy for you, no understanding, no second chances. The damage you have caused is too great. And the people you have hurt are too valuable to this community. You will never see the light of day as a free man ever again."
Gendron still faces separate federal hate crime charges over the attack and could face the death penalty. He has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.
In December, Gendron’s attorneys said at a court hearing that he would be willing to plead guilty if prosecutors agreed to remove the death penalty as a punishment.