Theat a grocery store in Buffalo, New York include a church deacon, a beloved security guard and the mother of a retired fire chief. The victims represented a cross-section of life in the predominantly black neighborhood.
They were shot by an 18-year-old white man who, authorities say, showed up at the store with the “explicit purpose” of murdering black people. Governor Kathy Hochulan act of “white supremacist terrorism.” Three other people were injured in the attack.
All but one of the dead were over the age of 50, according to police.
was a beloved community member and security guard who knew Tops Friendly Market shoppers by name. When they were attacked by a gunman with a rifle, he sprang into action.
Salter, a retired Buffalo police officer, fired multiple times at the attacker, who was wearing an armored vest. The attacker was hit at least once, but the bullet did not penetrate his vest. Salter, 55, was shot and killed.
“He’s a true hero, and we don’t know what prevented him. There could have been more casualties if he hadn’t been for his actions. He’s been retired for a number of years. He’s a much-loved member and collaborator of Tops here , he worked in security and he went down fighting,” Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said on Sunday. “We’re sure he saved lives yesterday.”
Yvette Mack remembered Salter, the security guard, as someone who cared about the community, looking after the store and “letting us know if we were right or wrong.”
Mack would walk to the store to play lottery numbers and shop. She said she spoke to Salter shortly before the shooting.
“I played my songs. He said, ‘I see you playing your songs!’ I laughed. And he played his songs too. Can you imagine seeing someone, and you don’t know he’s not going home?” she said.
Andre Mackneil, 53, of Auburn, New York, was in town visiting relatives and picked up a surprise birthday cake for his grandson.
“He never came with the pie,” Clarissa Alston-McCutcheon said of her cousin. She said this kind of surprise was typical of him. He was “just a loving and caring man. Beloved family. Was always there for his family.”
Ruth Whitfield was the 86-year-old mother of retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield. According to family lawyerthe “beloved wife, mother and grandmother was her husband’s primary caregiver and came back to visit him in a nursing home when she was killed in the shooting.”
“She didn’t answer her phone. And the nursing home here is just a stone’s throw from the crime scene. When she didn’t answer her phone, [I] I just walked over and found her vehicle was here in the store in the parking lot,” Garnell Whitfield told CBS Mornings on Monday.
When asked how his family is coping with this news, Garnell said, “It’s very hard. This is just surreal. We’re in a place we never expected. My mom was the glue that held us together.”
Pearl Young, 77, was a member of the Good Samaritan Church of God in Christ for more than 50 years, WIVB-TV reports.
James Pennington described her as someone who liked to be happy and who liked to make other people happy.
“She was just a family person,” Pennington said. “It was impossible to have a bad day around her.
“She was the best, man. She was really the best,” he added. “So I’d just hope people celebrate her.”
Roberta Drury had recently returned home to live with her mother, Dezzelynn McDuffie, who told The Buffalo News that the 32-year-old woman — the youngest of the murdered — had walked to Tops on Saturday afternoon to pick up some groceries. Soon, McDuffie saw horrific videos circulating on social media of the gunman shooting her daughter just outside the store.
She had recently helped her brother recover from a bone marrow transplant, WIVB-TV reports.
Katherine Massey was 72. Her sister, Barbara Massey, called her “a beautiful soul.”
Heyward Patterson, 67, was a deacon at a nearby church. He’d passed the church soup kitchen before heading to the grocery store, where he offered an informal taxi service to take people home with their bags.
“As far as I understand, he was helping someone do their shopping in their car when he was shot and killed,” said Pastor Russell Bell of State Tabernacle Church of God in Christ.
Bell said Patterson would clean the church and do whatever else was needed.
“He would meet my wife and I at the door and escort us to the office. We never asked or asked him to do it. He just did it out of love,” Bell said.
Services continued on Sunday, but it was difficult.
“It was quite a struggle, we had to go through it and our hearts were broken,” he said. “Deacon Patterson was a man who loved people. He loved the community as much as he loved the Church,” he said.
Celeste Chaney, 65, was a breast cancer survivor, prompting her family to ask people to wear pink ribbons in her honor, the WIVB reported. She shopped twice a month with her only son, Wayne Jones.
“Whatever’s going on with your parents,” Jones said, “you might get into a fight or a fight. Just take your time. You never know when they’ll be gone.’
Margus D. Morrison
Margus Morrison was 52 years old and from Buffalo.
Geraldine Talley was 62 years old and from Buffalo.
Update: This story has been updated to correct the names of one of the victims.