The mass shooter of a Buffalo, New York grocery store was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Wednesday, but the hearing was not without some drama.
Payton Grendon, 19, has admitted that he set out to kill Black people when he opened fire on Tops Friendly Market on May 14, killing 10 people and wounding three others.
Many of the victims' family members testified at the hearing before Erie County Judge Susan Eagan pronounced the sentence.
As one victim's sister addressed the shooter, a man in a gray jogging suit rushed Grendon, who was taken out of the courtroom for his safety.
“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,” the woman said to Grendon before the man rushed toward him.
District Attorney John Flynn said at a news conference after the hearing that the man who tried to attack Grendon will not be charged because it is understandable that emotions were high.
Eagan got the courtroom back on track after a short break. “I am sure that you are all disturbed by the physicality that we've seen in the courtroom here today. I understand that emotion. And I understand that anger. But we cannot have that in the courtroom,” she said.
“We must conduct ourselves appropriately, because we are all better than that,” Eagan added.
Grendon, who was radicalized by white supremacists, addressed the court and expressed remorse for his actions.
“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.
But most of the victims' families didn't think his words were sincere. “You don't mean none of that s---,” a woman yelled after his statement.
Once all the statements were concluded, Eagan tearfully thanked the victims and family members for their words and pronounced the sentence.
“There is no place for you or your ignorant, hateful and evil ideologies in a civilized society. 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,” she said.
In reality, a life sentence probably is merciful for someone who willfully and hatefully killed 10 people in cold blood, but New York hasn't executed anyone since 1963.