UPDATED with more names of victims: 2:30 a.m. ET, May 15
Originally published May 14
A pair of elderly Black women and a former police officer are among the fatal victims in Saturday’s racist mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Their names and others who were slain in the shooting apparently motivated by white supremacist hatred were slowly being made public in the hours after the massacre at Tops Friendly Market located in a low-income Black community.
Suspected white supremacist Payton Gendron is alleged to have killed 10 people in all and injured three others. Eleven of the victims are confirmed to be Black. The other two victims are Black. Nine of those who were killed were customers. Three supermarket employees sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Complete demographic information about all of the victims was not immediately available.
Some names of the victims have been reported in both traditional and social media, but officials had only confirmed several as of early Sunday morning. One of the victims is a 30-year-old woman whose mother sent her to Tops Friendly Market, the Buffalo News reported. The woman’s mother said her daughter never returned and she later saw her daughter’s photo on social media and mentioned among the victims. However, no representatives from the city have been in touch with the woman’s mother, she said.
The Buffalo News also reported that another victim was a “church deacon who works as a driver.”
As a result, a hate crime investigation has begun.
Here’s what else we know about the victims so far.
Aaron Salter Jr.
One of the 10 people killed in the shooting at Tops Friendly Market was a former Buffalo police officer. Aaron Salter Jr. was working as a security guard at Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue when he tried to stop Gendron, who was draped in body armor.
Salter, a father of three, was remembered by his son as a “hero” who prevented further carnage as he engaged Gendron with gunfire that eventually took the life of the 30-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department.
“I’m pretty sure he saved some lives today,” Aaron Salter III told the Daily Beast. “He’s a hero.”
Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia described Salter as “a hero in our eyes,” the Buffalo News reported.
A witness told the New York Times he knew Salter.
“It’s hard to grasp,” Clarence Jones said of Salter’s death. “It’s hard. It’s hard.”
Salter’s former law enforcement status was somewhat paradoxical as police officers responding to a mass murder taking place in real-time somehow managed to not kill Gendron, who was reportedly talked out of dying by suicide as he held a gun to his neck.
It was not immediately clear if Buffalo police even fired a single shot at a man suspected of a crime that is exponentially more severe than the types of nonviolent police encounters that routinely end with Black civilians being killed.
The 86-year-old mother of Buffalo’s former fire commissioner was also killed in Saturday’s shooting. Ruth Whitfield was shopping when the heavily armed and armored Gendron entered Tops Friendly Market and killed her along with nine other people.
“I never dreamed I’d ever be having a phone call like this,” retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield told the Buffalo News about learning his mother had been killed in the mass shooting. “My mom was the consummate mom. 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.”
An elderly grandmother who was slain during the supermarket shooting is being remembered fondly as a pillar of the community.
“Pearly Young, 77, was killed today in #Buffalo shopping for groceries,” journalist Madison Carter eulogized on Twitter following the shooting. “For 25 years she ran a pantry where every Saturday she fed people in Central Park. Every. Saturday. She loved singing, dancing, & being with family. She was mother, grandma, & missionary. Gone too soon.”
Young was also mourned on Facebook.
“YOU DID NOT DESERVE THIS!!!” Jimmie Smith posted as a status update late Saturday night. “You were so sweet and beautiful on the inside and out! YOU REALLY DID LOVE THE LORD!!!!”
Not much was known immediately about Katherine Massey, whose sister told the Buffalo News she died in the shooting. “She was a beautiful soul,” Barbara Massey said.
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.
Elderly Black Women Among Buffalo Shooting Victims was originally published on newsone.com