(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — As she stared down the teenager who murdered her sister and nine other Black people in the racially motivated Buffalo mass shooting, Barbara Massey Mapps said her blood was boiling to the point she wanted to reach out and wring his neck.
As Mapps gave a blistering victim impact statement in Erie County Court Wednesday, she said her anger grew as she interpreted the look on killer Payton Gendron’s face as someone “who doesn’t care.” But it was her 46-year-old son, Damore Mapps, the oldest of her late sister Katherine “Kat” Massey’s nephews, who made an attempt in court to physically assault Gendron.
As his mother was speaking and pounding her hand on the prosecution’s table to seize Gendron’s attention, Damore Mapps, who was standing next to her, suddenly charged towards Gendron and lunged at the 19-year-old, wildly swinging his fists as courtroom guards restrained him and hustled the handcuffed defendant out of the courtroom.
“He wouldn’t have went up there if it weren’t for me. He saw me emotional and I’m his mom. ‘Mom’s hurt, I’m gonna protect my mother,'” Barbara Massey Mapps said of her son at a post-sentencing news conference. “This is the way we were brought up. You hurt one of us, you hurt us all.”
The courtroom outburst briefly halted the hearing and cut short Mapps’ statement, moments after she told Gendron “you don’t know a damn thing about Black people. We’re human.”
She said her son was extremely close to her 72-year-old sister and that his still “raw” emotions emerged in the courtroom.
“He’s the one who called Kat ‘Triple Black’ … because she was so proud of her heritage,” said Mapps, who referenced the nickname in her statement.
No charges were filed against Damore Mapps, who was not allowed back in the courtroom when the sentencing hearing resumed.
Barbara Massey Mapps, 65, said that as she spoke directly to Gendron, anger and satisfaction coursed through her body. While telling Gendron, “I would hurt you so bad,” if he weren’t surrounded by guards, she said it felt good to finally unburden her pent-up rage.
“I wanted to choke him until my fingerprints left a mark around his neck. That’s what I wanted from the bottom of my heart,” she said. “I have not felt this good since 5/14, since I could speak to him.”
During the hearing, Gendron apologized to the families of the 10 people he killed and the three he wounded in the May 14, 2022, racially motivated mass shooting at a Tops supermarket on Buffalo’s east side.
But Mapps said she felt Gendron’s mea culpa did not strike her as sincere. She said she suspects he only gave a statement in an attempt to avoid the death penalty, which he still faces in the pending federal case against him.
“I feel that he could care less about what he did,” Mapps said.
Gendron pleaded guilty in November to 15 state charges, including murder and attempted murder. He is the first person in state history to be charged with domestic terrorism motivated by hate.
Judge Susan Eagan imposed mandatory sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole for each of the 10 victims Gendron killed and 25 years for each of the three victims he shot and wounded. Eagan told Gendron there would be “no mercy for you, no understanding, no second chances.”
In addition to the state case, Gendron is facing hate and domestic terrorism charges in federal court. His attorneys said he might consider pleading guilty if federal prosecutors agree not to pursue the death penalty.
While several family members who spoke in state court on Wednesday said they would rather see Gendron rot in prison, Mapps said, “I want to have the death penalty.”
“A lot of my family now wants him to be in jail for 200 to 300 years. I think that’s a waste of money,” Mapps said. “If anybody deserves the death penalty, it’s him.”
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