Son of Buffalo shooting victim fears death penalty could make suspect a ‘martyr’ | National

Alysha Webb/ABC News

(BUFFALO, NY) – As federal prosecutors consider whether to seek the death penalty for the suspect in the Buffalo, New York, racially motivated shooting that left 10 black people dead, the son of the One of the victims told ABC News he doesn’t want to see the alleged teenage shooter made a martyr.

Wayne Jones, the only child of Celestine Chaney, 65, one of those killed in the May 14 mass shooting, said he would rather see the white suspect, Payton Gendron, 19, spend the rest of his life behind bars.

“When you see him in court, he’s a kid. You can tell he’s a kid and whether he tells anybody or not, you can see it on his face, ‘I really messed up,'” Jones, 49, the father of six, told ABC News. “So, for me, I would prefer him to stay behind bars for the rest of his life. If you kill him, he becomes a martyr.”

As Jones spoke, a new federal Joint Intelligence Bulletin obtained by ABC News warns that public disclosure of Gendron’s nearly 700-page online diary is likely to enhance the ability of copycat attackers.

The document from the FBI’s National Counterterrorism Center and Department of Homeland Security said the tactics, techniques and procedures Gendron allegedly wrote about “could contribute to today’s threat landscape” as they represent a “practical guide to future attackers.

“The DHS, FBI and NCTC (The National Counterterrorism Center) believe that the dissemination of written guidelines outlining the tactics, techniques and procedures used by the alleged Buffalo attacker will likely improve the abilities of potential mass shooters who may be inspired by this attack,” the statement said.

Gendron is accused of planning the massacre for months — including going to the store, more than a three-hour drive from his home in Conklin, New York — to sketch out the layout and count the number of black people present, said federal prosecutors. Gendron was allegedly motivated by a far-right, racist conspiracy known as the Replacement Theory and he wanted to “inspire others to carry out similar attacks,” according to a federal criminal complaint.

Increase in attacks against the black community

But Garnell Whitfield Jr., the former Buffalo fire marshal whose 86-year-old mother, Ruth Whitfield, was the oldest victim killed in the rampage, told ABC News of an upsurge in attacks on the black community, fueled by what he described as an increase in racist rhetoric from right-wing leaders, was happening long before the murderous Buffalo rampage.

In 2015, white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine black members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina during a Bible study. Roof, who was convicted of federal hate crimes and sentenced to death, confessed that he wanted to start a race war.

In 2017, avowed white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. deliberately drove his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman and injuring dozens of others. Fields, who pleaded guilty to 29 of 30 federal hate crimes, was sentenced to life in prison. He was also convicted of murder by the state.

According to FBI statistics, the number of reported hate crimes against black people in America in 2020 was 2,871, up from 1,972 in 2019.

Whitfield said he’d rather spend his time focusing on the dynamics behind the rise in hate crimes rather than the teenager charged in the Tops store rampage.

“But look, it’s not about this guy. This guy is an insignificant pawn used by the powers that be, by the system that is, to do their dirty work, OK,” Whitfield said of Gendron. , refusing to say his name. “So I’m not going to focus on him. He’s in custody.”

He added: “He’s definitely going to get whatever he gets. I don’t care if he gets the death penalty or not. I don’t really care about him. I’m not going to spend my time talking about him or focusing on him. The truth is that I focus on the things that empowered him and why he became who he was. The systems and people that continue to be in power to this day and who continue to victimize us all.”

“I don’t wish death on anyone”: the best survivor of the shooting

Fragrance Harris Stanfield, a Tops employee who survived the shooting, also told ABC News she was against killing anyone.

“I mean obviously he shouldn’t be released. Whether he gets the death penalty or not, that’s not something I would think about. I’m not in death like that. I don’t wish death on anyone for any reason,” said Harris Stanfield, a mother of seven who calls herself a devout Muslim.

A Buffalo Public Schools educator, who worked at Tops as a second job to make ends meet, Harris Stanfield said she’s grateful the federal charges against the suspect have been updated to include victims like her who don’t Were not physically injured in the shooting. but were traumatized by what they experienced.

Harris Stanfield said she was grateful federal prosecutors listened to her when she expressed concern that charges were not initially filed on behalf of victims who were not killed or injured. She said when she saw the first charges against the suspect she was “distressed again”.

“I felt like there was a whole different set of trauma given that it was just for people who were shot or people who were killed,” Harris Stanfield said. “All others were not included.”

The 27-count federal indictment charges Gendron with 14 violations of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr., including 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill three injured people, and one count of hate crimes alleging the suspect attempted to kill other black people in and around Tops’ grocery store. He is also charged with 13 firearms offences.

Like Jones, Whitfield said he attended several court hearings for Gendron and concluded, “He is also a victim.

“He’s just too dumb and ignorant to know that. His whole problem, if you read his manifesto, he’s been ostracized and bullied his whole life, he felt,” Whitfield said. “It wasn’t by black people. No black people live near him. They were mean people, but they weren’t black people. He had no reason to channel, but they helped him to channel that anger back to us. It’s an afterthought. If I had a choice, would I do something to her? Probably for hurting my mom. But the most important thing to me is the systems that we’ve all lived with, that we’ve all suffered with. And that’s where I want to focus my energy.”

Whitfield said he would like to see a serious dialogue in America about the rise of white supremacy, but doubts that will happen because “it’s not practical.”

“You should recognize that your ancestors enslaved my ancestors and built this country on our backs. You should recognize all these things. You should recognize the lies you were taught. And you should recognize the flaws of your ancestors, of your belief system. You would have to deal with all of that. And it’s uncomfortable,” Whitfield said.

Suspect was ‘a kid on the internet for years’

Meanwhile, Jones said he believed Gendron could be more useful in combating future racially motivated attacks if he was kept alive.

“Let him just sit there and let him think like I have to keep thinking. For the rest of my life I have to think about it. My mother is gone. So the rest of his life he needs thinking, ‘I can’t kiss my mom because I did this and I’m here.’ So that’s the outcome I would like,” Jones told ABC News. “I know some people want the death penalty for him. Probably if I was younger that’s probably how I would do it. But I have kids. I’ve had 18-year-olds and you “Make a lot of mistakes when you’re younger. He made a big one. But he doesn’t strike me as a hard-core terrorist.”

He said that ideally he would like to see a program in which others who think they are following in the suspect’s footsteps are brought to jail to speak with him, so he can tell them, “don’t get caught up in what I’m ‘have done”.

Jones agrees with Whitfield that Gendron was not just a lone wolf.

“He’s just sitting with his head down. He could be brainwashed. You’ve been talking about a kid on the internet for years,” Jones said. “Somebody brainwashed him or convinced him to, gave him the idea and fed him about black people taking over and this and that.”

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