Spectator shouts ‘coward’ at Buffalo shooting suspect during court appearance

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A courtroom spectator on Thursday shouted “coward” at the 18-year-old white man indicted in connection with the slaying of 10 people who were gunned down in a racist rampage at a Buffalo supermarket.

A handcuffed Payton Gendron wore an orange jail uniform and facial covering and was surrounded by a half-dozen sheriff’s deputies during his brief appearance in an Erie County courtroom.

A prosecutor announced that a grand jury on Wednesday had handed up an indictment against Gendron, though it wasn’t immediately clear what the charge was and how many counts were listed in that complaint.

The hearing lasted about four minutes and came five days after the suspect’s arrest at Tops Friendly Market, a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

A judge ordered Gendron to remain in jail without bail.

“Payton, you’re a coward!” a spectator, seated in court among loved ones of victims, shouted at Gendron as he was led out of court.

Gendron’s defense attorney declined comment outside court on Thursday and didn’t return messages left by NBC News immediately after the hearing.

In a statement issued after the hearing, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn confirmed that an indictment had been handed up but the prosecutors did not elaborate.

The grand jury’s “investigation has not been completed” and prosecutors “cannot comment further until there is an indictment reported to the Court following a complete investigation,” according to Flynn.

The suspect allegedly drove 200 miles from his home in Conklin, a small town in New York’s southern tier, to carry out the attack.

The victims have been identified as: Roberta Drury, 32, Margus Morrison, 52, Andre Mackneil, 53, Aaron Salter Jr., 55, Geraldine Talley, 62, Celestine Chaney, 65, Heyward Patterson, 67, Katherine Massey, 72, Pearl Young, 77, and Ruth Whitfield, 86.

Three others were injured.

Salter, a former Buffalo police officer, was working as a security guard at Tops that day and returned fire, striking the suspect, officials said.

But Gendron wore tactical body amor, allowing him to keep shooting and kill Salter, authorities said.

The suspect allegedly posted a 180-page document, revealing plans to attack Black people while citing the racist “great replacement theory” — which falsely states that white Americans are being supplanted by nonwhite people through immigration, interracial marriage and, eventually, violence.

Many of the far-right activists who descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 chanted, “Jews will not replace us,” among other bigoted slurs and slogans they voiced.

Katherine Koretski reported from Buffalo, while David K. Li reported from New York City.

David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

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