Payton Gendron, the Buffalo supermarket shooter and an avowed white supremacist, has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

On June 1, 2022 — about two weeks after Gendron opened fire at a Buffalo supermarket — an Erie County grand jury charged him with committing a “domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate,” 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder in the second degree and a felony weapons charge. According Gendron’s online posts on Discord, the location was chosen specifically because of its location in a predominantly Black community. Gendron drove from his home in Conklin, New York — a town just under 20 minutes away from Binghamton University.

In November, Gendron pled guilty to 15 of the charges, including the one accusing him of domestic terrorism, which carries a mandatory life sentence with no possibility of parole. Despite being sentenced for state convictions, he still faces federal hate crime and weapons charges, carrying the potential of the death penalty.

During the sentencing hearing, family members of victims emphasized the need for justice. Kerry Whigham, the director of BU’s Institute of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP) echoed this sentiment, characterizing it as necessary for the sake of society.

“When a teenage boy murdered 10 people last May in a violent racist attack, I-GMAP asked that we view this hate crime in the same category that we view genocide and other related atrocities,” Whigham wrote in an email. “It was an attempt to terrorize, demoralize and destroy a group of people because of their identity. As with genocide, justice and accountability are essential in the aftermath of hate crimes like this, not only to punish the perpetrator but to exemplify for the victims and the whole of society what we most value and what we will not tolerate as a people.”

In a manifesto posted online, Gendron referenced the “great replacement theory,” a racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy alleging a coordinated effort to “replace white populations” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — an organization that “[works] in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy.” The idea influenced restrictive immigration quotas and the American eugenics movement in the early twentieth century.

Before the sentence was read aloud, Gendron spoke, apologizing to the families of his victims and appearing to express remorse for his actions. Judge Susan Eagan then declared that there would be “no mercy, no understanding and no second chances” for a crime of this nature, before handing down the sentence.

BU students responded to the process of bringing Gendron to justice and its greater implications for the United States. Kenny Pasato, a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, described his personal connection to the attack.

“My mom was worried because my brother, who lives less than a mile from Tops [Friendly Supermarkets], was going to go there that day,” Pasato said. “Having the shooting so close to his apartment terrified him. I think that the punishment given is necessary and fair because he needs to be punished in a way that reflects the severity of the crime.”

Angel Avila, the graduate assistant for administration at BU’s Multicultural Resource Center (MRC), an organization that “supports and educates the campus community through initiatives designed to increase awareness and understanding of cultural diversity,” and a second-year graduate student pursuing a masters of business administration, expressed his thoughts about America’s path forward.

“It hits on the personal side for me because I have family that lives in Buffalo not too far away from where it happened and the first thing I did was make sure they were okay,” Avila said. “It’s sad that hundreds of years [after America’s founding], even though people don’t hate each other as visibly as they used to, there is still so much more that needs to be done.”