The white man accused of gunning down 10 Black people while live streaming the mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket in May, pleaded not guilty on Monday to 27 federal hate crime charges. If convicted, his crimes could be punishable by the death penalty. However, the Department of Justice has not yet decided whether it will seek the death penalty in the case. 

Now, 19-year-old Payton Gendron appeared briefly in a Buffalo courtroom where his court-appointed attorney entered the not guilty plea, Reuters reported. The lawyer, Barbara Burns, said she hoped to resolve the case before trial, signaling that Gendron may end up pleading guilty to some if not all the charges against him.

Gendron, who was 18 at the time of the mass shooting, is currently in state custody. He faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 10 counts of second-degree murder in state court. 

Investigators say Gendron drove for more than three hours from his home in Conklin, New York, to a predominantly Black neighborhood, in Buffalo, New York with the intent of killing as many Black people as possible. The suspect allegedly wrote a 180-page racist manifesto. He is believed to have been motivated by the white supremacist beliefs of the “Great Replacement Theory” in which nonwhite individuals are being brought into the United States and other Western countries to “replace” white voters to achieve a political agenda.

“The Justice Department fully recognizes the threat that white supremacist violence poses to the safety of the American people and American democracy,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement after the federal indictment was unsealed on the two-month anniversary of the massacre. 

“We will continue to be relentless in our efforts to combat hate crimes, to support the communities terrorized by them, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them,” he added. 

Just last year, Garland halted federal executions.

Just shy of the two month anniversary, the Tops Friendly supermarket, reopened last week.

Gendron is due for another status hearing on Dec. 9.

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