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Buffalo prosecutors get more time to build their case against a mass shooting suspect

Police continue the investigation at the Tops supermarket May 18 in the Cold Spring neighborhood of Buffalo, N.Y. A gunman opened fire at the store on Saturday, killing 10 people and wounding three others. Police say it's being investigated as a racially motivated hate crime.
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Police continue the investigation at the Tops supermarket May 18 in the Cold Spring neighborhood of Buffalo, N.Y. A gunman opened fire at the store on Saturday, killing 10 people and wounding three others. Police say it's being investigated as a racially motivated hate crime.

In a brief hearing at Erie County Courthouse on Thursday morning, prosecutors received more time to put together their case against Payton Gendron, who's accused of killing 10 people in a racist attack on a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store.

Judge Craig Hannah agreed to move Gendron's felony hearing, which will determine if there's enough evidence to proceed to trial, to June 9. The 18-year-old white man is accused of targeting a store in a Black community after developing white supremacist views. He'll continue to be held without bail.

It was the second court appearance for Gendron, who entered the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit. On Saturday he pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges.

While many might think it appears to be an open-and-shut case, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said before the hearing that he would proceed by the book.

"Emotions are high. I understand the rawness of this matter. However, I do not operate in a court of public opinion," Flynn said. "I operate in a court of law, and this defendant is innocent until proven guilty."

Flynn added that more charges might be filed after a grand jury convened and investigated the shooting. There's a 45-day window for that to occur and the clock starts ticking today.

Officials have said they are investigating the mass shooting as a racially motivated hate crime and are also considering a terrorism charge.

In the midst of all this, the community continues to mourn. They've been holding vigils and another large prayer vigil is scheduled for this evening. On Friday, a funeral will be held for 67-year-old Heyward Patterson, one of the 10 people killed in the attack.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Cheryl Corley is a Chicago-based NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk. She primarily covers criminal justice issues as well as breaking news in the Midwest and across the country.