The victims of the massacre in Buffalo Saturday were innocent bystanders—an elderly woman stopping for a bite to eat after visiting her husband in a nursing home, a writer for community newspapers who advocated for stricter gun control measures, and grocery workers just trying to do their jobs.
Ten people died in the attack, and three more were wounded. Of the 13 victims, 11 were Black.
The shooting at the Tops Grocery Store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, has appeared to be racially motivated and was allegedly committed by a white supremacist.
The 18-year-old shooter streamed the attack on Twitch and wrote a rambling white supremacist manifesto that explicitly shared racist conspiracy theories popular with the mainstream conservative movement like the “great replacement” theory. The shooter also claimed that “Jews are spreading critical race theory and white shame/guilt to brainwash Whites into hating themselves and their people.”
“Many of us have been in and out of this supermarket, our family members have been in and out of this supermarket. Many of us know some of those who are victims of this horrific crime,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a press conference Saturday. “So this is painful. This does hurt. It always hurts.”
“This should not happen in this community or any community anywhere in our country,” Brown said.
“It’s just too much. I’m trying to bear witness, but it’s just too much. You can’t even go to the damn store in peace,” Buffalo resident Yvonne Woodard told the Associated Press Sunday. “It’s just crazy.”
Here are the people who were killed at the grocery store and what we know about them.
Ruth Whitfield, 86
Whitfield was the mother of four children, including former Buffalo Fire Department head Garnell Whitfield. “My mom was the consummate mom,” Whitfield told 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.”
Pearl Young, 77
Young was a grandmother who helped run the church’s soup kitchen for 25 years, the clergyman told the Buffalo News. She was also a longtime substitute teacher in Buffalo Public Schools, the Buffalo News reported.
“Even if it was nothing but soup and bread, whatever she could do, she would just always avail herself to help the people,” Young, whose congregation lost at least three members Saturday, told the Buffalo News. “That’s what she was noted for. Her life was full of giving.”
Katherine ‘Kat’ Massey, 72
Massey worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield before retiring, according to WGRZ, but she was also a passionate community activist who wrote for the Buffalo News and The Buffalo Challenger, a community newspaper. In 2021, Massey wrote a letter to the editor of The Buffalo News calling for federal action on ending gun trafficking.
“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,” Massey wrote nearly a year ago. “Illegal handguns, via out-of-state gun trafficking, are the primary culprits.”
Massey’s family told the Associated Press she was a “beautiful soul,” and told WGRZ Massey was a “bubbly matriarch” and a “free spirit.”
“I hope that as a nation as a community just people at home, they teach their kids how to love instead of hate because that's not what she represented and that's not what I teach my kids and that's not how our family [does] things,” her niece, Adrienne Massey, told WGRZ.
Heyward Patterson, 67
Patterson was a deacon at the State Tabernacle Church of God in Buffalo, where he volunteered in the soup kitchen, according to the Buffalo News. He was shot in his pickup truck in the parking lot; for years, he gave Tops shoppers rides home from the store,the Buffalo News reported. He was the father of three children.
“He would give the shirt off his back,” Tirzah Patterson, his former wife, told the Buffalo News. “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.”
Celestine Chaney, 65
Chaney, a grandmother who was a former factory worker in Buffalo for New Era and M. Wile, had lived through several health scares, her sister told the Buffalo News. “She was a breast cancer survivor and she survived aneurysms in her brain, and then she goes to Tops and gets shot,” Daniels said.
“She was probably the sweetest person you could meet,” Dominique Brown, her granddaughter, told the Buffalo News. “Very loving, very giving, very kind.”
Geraldine Talley, 62
Talley was doing her weekly grocery shopping with her fiance when the shooting started, according to CNN. Talley was the mother of two children, her family told CNN.
“She’s sweet, sweet, you know, the life of the party,” her niece, Lakesha Chapman, said. “She was the person who always put our family reunion together, she was an avid baker.”
Chapman said her family was “outraged” at her aunt’s death, which she described to CNN as the “most numbing feeling ever.”
“She was shopping and this man comes out of his neighborhood to attack because of her skin color, because of her ZIP code, you know, because it was predominantly Black,” Chapman told CNN. “She was innocent. There’s no words to describe it.”
Aaron Salter, 55
Salter, a retired Buffalo cop, was the security guard on duty at Tops when the shooting began. He fired a shot, which struck the shooter’s body armor before the shooter killed him.
Salter was also a bassist and an amateur scientist who wanted to create a car which could run on water, his friends and former colleagues told the Buffalo News.
“I know he was thinking about, something was going wrong here,” retired Buffalo Police Department Lt. Steven Malkowski told the Buffalo News. “People’s lives were in danger, and he was probably the only person who was in there that could help and save people.”
Andre Mackneil, 53
Mackneil lived in Auburn, more than two hours away, but was in Buffalo to spend time with his family for his grandson’s birthday, the Associated Press reported Monday. Mackneil stopped at the grocery store to pick up a birthday cake.
His cousin, Clarissa Alston-McCutcheon, told the AP Mackneil was “just a loving and caring guy. Loved family. Was always there for his family.”
Margus Morrison, 52
The mother of Morrison’s three children confirmed he was killed in the attack, according to ABC 7.
Roberta Drury, 32
Drury was shopping for family members, including a brother who is recovering from leukemia, NPR reported Monday.
“She would go to Tops for us all the time, actually,” Christopher Moyer, Drury’s brother, told NPR. “We don’t really have family in the area, so it was just a great help that she could do something for us like that.”
Drury was a Syracuse native who moved to Buffalo more than a decade ago, according to 9WSYR.com.
Moyer told NPR he’ll remember how Drury spent time with his kids. “This is a real blow and a real tragedy to the area,” Moyer told NPR. “I don't think anyone saw something like this coming.”
‘We are a strong community’
In addition to the 10 victims who died, three more were wounded—20-year-old Tops employee Zaire Goodman, who was shot in the neck as he was collecting grocery carts; 50-year-old Jennifer Warrington; and 55-year-old Christopher Braden.
Goodman and Warrington were treated at Erie County Medical Center and later released, and Braden was treated for non-life threatening injuries, according to multiple reports.
United Food and Commercial International Union President Marc Perrone, whose union represents workers at the store as well as workers at the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado where a gunman killed ten people last March, said he was “once-again heartbroken and dismayed at this senseless gun violence that our members, grocery workers, and shoppers have been forced to face.”
“Over and over again, workers across industries, including UFCW grocery workers, have been subjected to this type of senseless hate and workplace violence. It is long overdue for America‘s elected leaders to take the steps necessary to protect our workers and communities from these continued acts of hate and violent tragedies.”
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are traveling to Buffalo Tuesday, the White House said. The Justice Department said Saturday it was investigating the attack “as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism.”
Brown told CBS News Sunday that the city’s residents “won’t let hateful ideology stop the progress” Buffalo has made.
“We are certainly saddened that someone drove from hundreds of miles away, someone not from this community, that did not know this community, that came here to take as many Black lives as possible, who did this in a willful, premeditated fashion, planning this,” Brown told CBS News.
“But we are a strong community and we will keep moving forward.”
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