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Several victims have been identified after an allegedly racist mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket.
This includes security guard Aaron W. Salter, 55–a recently retired police officer–who cops say heroically confronted the suspect at the cost of his own life. Another person slain was Ruth Whitfield, 86, the mother of former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield. Shopper Katherine Massey was reportedly just there at the Tops Friendly Market to pick up groceries. Friends reportedly identified a fourth victim as a church deacon who worked as a driver.
One of the injured survivors is Zaire Everhart, the son of a staffer for New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy.
All told, authorities have said gunman Payton S. Gendron, 18, drove hours to Buffalo from the town of Conklin, New York to carry out the mass murder. Wearing body armor and armed with a high-powered rifle, he killed 10 people and injured three outside and inside the supermarket, officials said.
FBI Field Agent Stephen Belongia called the case an example of “racially motivated violent extremism” during a press conference on Saturday. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn obliquely referenced “pieces of evidence” showing racial animosity. Authorities say that Gendron live streamed the shooting. A white supremacist, racist, and antisemitic manifesto reportedly circulated online and was linked to Gendron.
An apparently legitimate screenshot from the footage shows a suspect–allegedly Gendron–holding a rifle, which features the N-word and the number “14” written on it, the latter of which is in reference to the white supremacist slogan. Though you can see a cropped version of the screenshot here, please note that it shows the moment when the attacker shoots a woman in the head.
11 of the victims were Black, and the remaining two were white, authorities said. For example, Salter and Whitfield were Black. Gendron is white.
There’s the racist Buffalo gunman who copied other racists and then there’s Aaron Salter Jr., who died trying to protect people, had three kids and was working to build engines that could run on water. Whose name should we be remembering?
— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) May 15, 2022
This morning, we’re focusing on the victims.
This is Ruth Whitfield.
She was 86 and was the mother of former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield. pic.twitter.com/kaV1r7xPtx
— Mel Orlins (@Mel_Orlins) May 15, 2022
Salter managed to shoot Gendron, but the armor saved the suspect, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said.
“He went down fighting,” the commissioner said Sunday of Salter. “He came in. He went towards the gunfire. He went towards the fight. He shot the individual, but because of his [the shooter’s] armor plating vest, it had no effect on him, and unfortunately, the suspect returned fire and he [Salter] succumbed to his injuries. Like I said, he was a beloved member [of the police department] and we’re sure he saved lives yesterday.”
“He’s a true hero…We’re sure he saved lives yesterday.”
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia tells @GStephanopoulos that Aaron Salter, a retired police officer working security at supermarket, “went down fighting” after confronting gunman. pic.twitter.com/HjYfbPHulU
— ABC News (@ABC) May 15, 2022
Gendron surrendered to police after they talked him out of putting the rifle to his neck, authorities have said.
“My mom was the consummate mom,” Garnell Whitfield said of Ruth, according to The Buffalo News. “My mother was a mother to the motherless. She was a blessing to all of us. She loved God and taught us to do the same thing.”
She was a mother of four, and the devoted wife of a 88-year-old husband.
“She inspired me to be a man of God, and to do whatever I do the best I could do,” Garnell Whitfield said, describing her role in him making his way to the top of the Buffalo Fire Department. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her.”
Katherine Massey had reportedly gone to the Tops that day to get groceries.
“She was a beautiful soul,” her sister Barbara Massey texted the News late Saturday.
A fourth slain victim was a church deacon, friends said, according to the News. The article did not name the person.
Zaire Everhart was among the three survivors.
“To say that I’m heartbroken tonight doesn’t even do it justice,” Sen. Kennedy said Saturday. “I’m devastated. I’m angry. And I’m thinking about the families who won’t welcome a loved one home tonight. All because an individual filled with pure evil made a calculated to decision to senselessly take innocent lives. Let us be clear: this was a hate crime and an act of terrorism on our community. It was racially motivated, extremism in its most pure form.”
Everhart is recovering at home, the senator said in an update Sunday.
Tonight, a member of my staff, my extended family, is at ECMC when she should be at home. She’s sitting in a hospital waiting room, because her beautiful, extraordinary son was shot while he was simply doing his job.
My full statement on today’s shooting in Buffalo is below: pic.twitter.com/QnCOEBjVts
— Senator Tim Kennedy (@SenKennedy) May 14, 2022
To the many who have sent prayers to my staff member Zeneta & her son Zaire following yesterday’s shooting in Buffalo – thank you. Those prayers have been answered. He is now home resting, & beginning the healing process. Please continue to pray for the families of those lost.
— Senator Tim Kennedy (@SenKennedy) May 15, 2022
[Screenshot via WGRZ]
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