“Gendron’s motive for the mass shooting was to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks,” the complaint says.
The defendant made his first appearance in federal court Thursday morning before US Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr., who assigned a federal public defender after Gendron said he could not afford an attorney and had $32 in the bank.
Gendron waived his right to detention and probable cause hearings and was returned to the custody of the state — where he has been held on a slew of criminal charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Along with the handwritten note, FBI agents found a receipt for a candy bar purchased at the Tops Friendly Market from March 8, when authorities believe he traveled to the store at least three times, the complaint says, making sketches of the store’s layout and counting the number of Black people who were there.
Just over two months later, on May 14, Gendron returned to the store, where authorities say he shot 13 people, who ranged in age from 20 to 86. Eleven were Black and two were White, Buffalo police said.
The federal charges announced Wednesday include 10 counts of hate crime resulting in death, three counts of hate crime involving bodily injury, 10 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a violent crime, and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a violent crime, according to a criminal complaint.
The latter three counts carry a potential death sentence. But Attorney General Merrick Garland has put a temporary hold on federal executions for the department to review its policies and procedures. Asked if federal prosecutors would seek the death penalty, Garland said the families of the victims and survivors of the shooting would be consulted.
CNN has reached out to attorneys for Gendron for comment.
News of federal charges came Wednesday as Garland visited the site of the massacre and families of the victims.
“No one in this country should have to live in fear that they will go to work or shop at a grocery store and will be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin,” Garland said after meeting with family members.
CNN’s Sonia Moghe and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.