The Buffalo Grocery Store Shooting Victims Included A Grandmother, An Activist, And A Retired Police Officer
Most of the victims were Black, and authorities are considering hate crime and terrorism charges for the 18-year-old suspect.
A substitute teacher. A grandmother out buying strawberries. A retired police officer who died trying to save others.
These are just a few of the 10 people who were killed Saturday when a shooter opened fire inside a Buffalo, New York, grocery store. Three others were wounded and are expected to survive. Most of the victims were Black, and authorities are considering hate crime and terrorism charges for the 18-year-old suspect.
Officials have not yet named all of the victims, but several have been identified by loved ones in local media outlets and on social media.
Aaron Salter, a retired Buffalo police officer who worked as a security guard at Tops grocery store, died trying to stop the attack, officials said. He fired at the shooter, but the shot did not penetrate the shooter’s body armor. The shooter then fired back, killing Salter.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia called Salter a “true hero” who “went down fighting” in an ABC News interview. “We’re sure he saved lives yesterday,” he said.
“He was on the police force for 30 years, and nothing like this ever happened,” his son, Aaron Salter III, told the New York Times. “He was just doing a security job, and that guy had to come in there and take all these innocent lives for no reason.”
Ruth Whitfield, 86, was a mother of four, including to former Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield.
Garnell told the Buffalo News that his mother was deeply devoted to her family. When he was young, she drove him and his brother to football practice every day and never missed one of their games. When her husband was moved to a nursing home, she visited him every day to take care of him.
“My mom was the consummate mom. My mother was a mother to the motherless,” he said. “She was a blessing to all of us. She loved God and taught us to do the same thing.”
Katherine Massey, 72, was passionate about promoting civil rights and education in her community, Betty Jean Grant, a former Erie County legislator and Massey’s friend of over 20 years, told the Buffalo News.
"She was unapologetic about making sure our community was not ignored," Grant said.
Massey was a member of the local organization We Are Women Warriors, which Grant founded, and regularly wrote op-eds to her local newspapers. Just a year ago, in a letter to the Buffalo News, Massey urged the federal government to pass gun control laws.
“There needs to be extensive federal action/legislation to address all aspects of the issue,” Massey wrote at the time. “Current pursued remedies mainly inspired by mass killings — namely, universal background checks and banning assault weapons — essentially exclude the sources of our city’s gun problems. Illegal handguns, via out of state gun trafficking, are the primary culprits.”
Pearl Young, 77, was a substitute teacher and ran a local food pantry for years. The Alabama native was very religious and loved to dance and cook, loved ones told AL.com.
“This man touched the apple of God’s eye,” Young’s niece Jacqueline Wright told the outlet. “I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.”
Teachers who worked with Young shared their memories of her in heartfelt social media posts, describing her as “like a grandma to everyone,” and a “beautiful soul who wanted nothing more than to make this world a better place.”
“She worked with kids that most would run from, she told the students about the music she loved and they listened,” one teacher wrote. “She would do anything that was asked of her and asked nothing in return other than a smile back.”
Roberta Drury, 32, was from Syracuse, New York, but moved to Buffalo to help her brother recover from a bone marrow transplant, her sister, Amanda Drury, told Reuters.
"She was vibrant and outgoing, could talk to anyone," Amanda said.
The Dalmatia Hotel, a bar where Roberta worked, mourned the loss in a Facebook post where they called her “our dear sister.”
“She was a bright light in the world, always laughing and smiling,” the bar said.
Celestine Chaney, a 65-year-old grandmother of six, went to the grocery store with her sister on Saturday to buy strawberries because she wanted to make a strawberry shortcake, her son, Wayne Jones, told the New York Times.
In the chaos of the shooting, Chaney and her sister got separated, and the sister survived by hiding in a freezer. “But my mom cannot really walk like she used to — she basically can’t run,” Jones said.
Chaney was a single mom, and Jones was her only child. Normally, he went grocery shopping with her, but he didn’t on Saturday because he was recovering from knee surgery. "It's ironic that the one time we didn't go together, there's a tragedy,” Jones told Insider.
Heyward Patterson, 68, worked as a driver, transporting people to and from the grocery store for less than they’d spend on a cab, his grandniece, Teniqua Clark, told the New York Times.
He was fatally shot while helping to load an older woman’s groceries into his car, Clark said.
Patterson was very involved in his church, serving as a deacon and working in the soup kitchen, according to the Buffalo News. His wife, Tirzah Patterson, described him as an “outgoing person” with “a good heart, good spirit, very mild, and a sense of humor.”
“He would give the shirt off his back,” Tirzah said. “That’s who he is. He wouldn’t hurt anybody. Whatever he had, he’d give it to you. You ask, he’ll give it. If he don’t got it, he’ll make a way to get it or send you to the person that can give it to you. He’s going to be missed a lot.”
Andre Mackneil lived in Auburn, New York, and was in Buffalo visiting family, his cousin Clarissa Alston-McCutcheon told USA Today.
The 53-year-old was “just a loving and caring guy” who “was always there for his family,” she said. He went to Tops that day to buy a birthday cake as a surprise for his grandson.
“He never came out with the cake,” she said.
Morrison was funny and loving, and loved music and collecting sneakers, Demps said. He and his wife had weekly movie nights together, and he went to Tops that day to buy snacks for it.
He worked as a school bus monitor, and was a “man who took care of…children with special needs” who rode the bus, one student’s mother said in a Facebook post, adding that her child called Morrison “my friend.”
“Kids loved him on the bus. He loved the kids,” Demps said. “It’s a very big loss to the community.”
Geraldine Talley, 62, was a mother of two, but felt like a second mother to many in her tight-knit extended family.
"Auntie Gerri was the sweetest person," her niece, Kesha Chapman, told People. "She was always smiling. She didn't like confrontation. She wanted everything to be easy and full of love."
Talley loved to make cheesecake, and had gone to Tops on Saturday to buy something for dinner. Her cousin, Tamika Harper, said the family’s “lives will never be the same,” and she plans to work "to prevent this from ever happening again.”
"She was such a beautiful woman," Harper said. "She would give you the shirt off her back. Why did this happen to her? Why?"