On Saturday, an 18-year-old admitted white supremacist opened fire on a supermarket in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York – shooting 13 people, 10 of whom are dead.
Three victims were killed in the parking lot, while the remaining seven were killed inside the store. 11 of the 13 people shot were Black, and the remaining two were white. Four were store employees, while the rest were shoppers.
The massacre shook the Buffalo community, especially among residents of the predominantly Black area where the Tops Friendly Market is the only grocery store for miles. Community members held a prayer vigil on Sunday morning in front of the supermarket to honor those who died and call attention to the vile danger of white supremacy.
“As the names are emerging, it is so heartbreaking because you realize, oh, that’s a friend of your mother, that’s the aunt of another friend of your wife. A man that was simply buying cupcakes for his son’s birthday slaughtered at the counter – the cashier counter,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
“So no, it is deeply disturbing to all of us. This is a tight-knit community, they care about each other. We care about everyone, and our hearts are broken, no doubt about it.”
Buffalo police have yet to release the names of the victims, but members of the community have begun speaking out to confirm their loved ones were among those shot. Here are the known names of the victims so far.
Aaron Salter Jr., 55
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia confirmed that retired officer Aaron Salter was among the dead. Salter had served in the police force for 30 years before working as a security guard for Tops Friendly Market, according to The Daily Beast.
The 55-year-old was working a shift at the store when 18-year-old Payton Gendron began randomly firing at people – first in the parking lot and then inside the supermarket. Salter fired multiple shots at Gendron, but the bullets could not penetrate the gunman’s tactical gear. Gendron then shot and killed the security guard before hunting the other victims.
“He went down fighting. He came in, he went towards the gunfire, he went towards the fight,” Gramaglia told ABC’s “This Week,” adding that there could have been more victims if not for Salter’s actions.
The security guard’s son, Aaron Salter III, told the Daily Beast that the shooting was “a shock,” calling his father a hero who likely “saved some lives today.”
Ruth Whitfield, 86
Retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield confirmed on Saturday night that his mother, Ruth Whitfield, was one of the victims of the shooting.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told churchgoers at the city’s True Bethel Baptist Church that he saw the former commissioner looking for his mother at the shooting scene on Saturday.
According to Brown, Garnell Whitfield said his mother was going to visit his father at a nursing home and had stopped at the supermarket to buy a few groceries, but that “nobody has heard from her.” She was then confirmed as a victim later, the mayor said.
“My mom was the consummate mom,” Garnell Whitfield told The Buffalo News. “My mother was a mother to the motherless. She was a blessing to all of us.”
Katherine “Kat” Massey, 72
Katherine Massey had gone to the store to pick up some groceries when the gunman killed her, a family member confirmed to The Buffalo News.
“She was a beautiful soul,” Massey’s sister, Barbara Massey, texted a reporter for the publication. Barbara Massey said their brother was supposed to pick Katherine Massey up when she was done grocery shopping and that she spent hours calling her sister while standing outside the supermarket, according to the Buffalo News.
According to former Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant – a friend of Katherine Massey’s for over 20 years – the 72-year-old was a staunch civil rights advocate, making sure Buffalo’s Black community was heard. Just last year, Massey wrote a letter to the editor calling for stronger gun regulations at the federal level to combat both street violence and mass shootings.
“We lost a voice yesterday,” Grant told The Buffalo News. “We lost a powerful, powerful voice.”
Heyward “Tenny” Patterson
Deacon Heyward “Tenny” Patterson was known in the community for his faith and service at State Tabernacle church. He would often drive people to and from the supermarket when they were unable to walk there, his friend Leonard Lane told WKYC-TV.
He would also help carry their groceries. Patterson was in the middle of helping someone load groceries into the trunk of a car when he was killed in the massacre on Saturday, his grand-niece Teniqua Clark told The New York Times.
“A lot of them don’t have cars, no buses. He’s just taking them home back and forth. He had a family, has a beautiful son, and they snatched him from them,” Lane said. “He loved his children, any man can see. And he loved God, that’s all that he wanted to do, help people.”
Pearly Young, 77
Community service member Pearly Young was shopping at the supermarket when she became one of the 10 people killed in the shooting.
Young ran a weekly food pantry for the last 25 years, where she would feed people in the Central Park neighborhood every Saturday, according to 11Alive reporter Madison Carr.
The 77-year-old’s family told Carr that she loved singing, dancing and being with family. Young’s daughter found out about her death when she wasn’t at the shooting’s reunification site, and the victim’s brother-in-law discovered her death through Facebook.
“I shouldn’t have found out like that,” he told Carr.
Roberta Drury, 32
Roberta Drury had been staying with family in Buffalo and was picking up groceries from the Tops to make dinner when she was killed in the massacre, her sister told The New York Times.
Drury had been recently helping one of her brothers recover from a bone marrow transplant, her other brother told WIVB-TV.
“We would like to personally thank the security guard’s family,” he said, while Drury’s sister called her “very vibrant” and “made the whole room smile and laugh.”
Her funeral will be held in Syracuse.
Celestine Chaney, 65
Celestine Chaney and her sister went to the supermarket when Chaney was killed, her son Wayne Jones confirmed to The New York Times. The 65-year-old wanted to buy strawberries to make shortcakes, which Jones said she loved.
When the shooting began, Chaney’s sister made it into the freezer to hide.
“But my mom cannot really walk like she used to,” Jones told the Times. “She basically can’t run.”
A single mother and breast cancer survivor, Chaney worked at a suit manufacturer before making baseball caps until her retirement. Jones is her only child; however, she has six grandchildren and one great-grandchild, according to WBNS-TV. Chaney’s family is asking the public to wear pink ribbons in her honor.