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Buffalo mass shooting victims include beloved guard, church deacon and mother of former fire commissioner: "This is just surreal"

10 killed in attack at Buffalo supermarket
10 killed in attack at Buffalo supermarket 05:21

The 10 victims of the mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York supermarket include a church deacon, a beloved security guard and the mother of a retired fire commissioner.  The victims represented a cross-section of life in the predominantly Black neighborhood.

They were gunned down by an 18-year-old white man who authorities say showed up at the store with the "express purpose" of killing Black people. Governor Kathy Hochul called it an act of "white supremacy terrorism." Three other people were wounded in the attack.

All but one of the people killed was over age 50, according to police.

Aaron Salter

Aaron Salter WIVB

Aaron Salter was a beloved community member and security guard who knew the shoppers of Tops Friendly Market by name. When they came under attack from 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 armor-plated vest. The attacker was struck at least once but the bullet didn't pierce his vest. Salter, 55, was shot and killed.

"He's a true hero, and we don't know what he prevented. There could have been more victims if not for his actions. He's been retired for several years. He's been a beloved member and employee of Tops here, working security and he went down fighting," Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Sunday. "We're sure he saved lives yesterday."

Yvette Mack remembered Salter, the security guard, as someone who cared about the community, looked after the store and "let us know if we was 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 was playing my numbers. He said 'I see you're playing your numbers!' I laughed. And he was playing his numbers too. Can you imagine seeing someone, and you don't know he's not going to go home?" she said.

Andre Mackneil

Andre Mackneil, 53, of Auburn, New York, was in town visiting relatives and was picking up a surprise birthday cake for his grandson.

"He never came out with the cake," Clarissa Alston-McCutcheon said of her cousin. She said this sort of surprise was typical for him. He was "just a loving and caring guy. Loved family. Was always there for his family."

Ruth Whitfield

Ruth Whitfield Family Photo

Ruth Whitfield was the 86-year-old mother of retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield. According to family attorney Ben Crump, the "beloved wife, mother and grandmother was the primary caretaker of her husband and was coming back visiting him at a nursing home when she was killed in the shooting."

"She didn't answer her phone. And the nursing home is just blocks from the scene here. Upon her not answering her phone, [I] just walked the scene here and was able to ascertain that her vehicle was in the lot here at the store," Garnell Whitfield told "CBS Mornings" on Monday.

When asked how his family is processing this news, Garnell said, "It's very difficult. This is just surreal. We are in a place that we never expected to be. My mother was the glue that held us together."

Pearl Young

Pearl Young WIVB

Pearl Young, 77, was a member of Good Samaritan Church of God in Christ for over 50 years, WIVB-TV reports.

James Pennington described her as someone who enjoyed being happy and enjoyed making 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 like truly the best," he added. "So I would just hope that people celebrate her."

Roberta Drury

Roberta Drury, who was among those who lost their lives in the TOPS supermarket shooting, is seen in this undated family photograph
Roberta Drury AMANDA DRURY via Reuters

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 people slain — had walked to Tops to pick up some groceries Saturday afternoon. Soon, McDuffie saw horrifying videos circulating on social media that appeared to show the gunman shooting her daughter just outside the store.

She had recently been helping her brother recover from a bone marrow transplant, WIVB-TV reported.

Katherine Massey

Buffalo Supermarket Shooting Victims
Katherine Massey Robert Kirkham / AP

Katherine Massey was 72. Her sister, Barbara Massey, called her "a beautiful soul."

Heyward Patterson

Heyward Patterson, 67, was a deacon at a nearby church. He'd gone by the church's soup kitchen before heading to the supermarket, where he offered an informal taxi service driving people home with their bags.

"From what I understand, he was assisting somebody putting their groceries 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 anything else that was needed.

"He would meet my wife and I at the door and escort us to the office. We never required him or asked him to do it. He just did it out of love," Bell said.

Services went on as usual Sunday, but it was difficult.

"It was quite a struggle, we had to get through it and our hearts are broken," he said. "Deacon Patterson was a man who loved people. He loved the community just as much as he loved the church," he said.

Celestine Chaney

Celeste Chaney, 65, was a breast cancer survivor, prompting her family to ask people to wear pink ribbons in her honor, WIVB reported. She shopped twice a month with her only son, Wayne Jones.

"No matter what's going on with your parents," Jones said, "you might be arguing or fighting. Just take the time. You never know when they're going to be gone."

Margus D. Morrison

Margus Morrison was 52 years old and from Buffalo.

Geraldine Talley

Geraldine Talley was 62 years old and from Buffalo.

Buffalo Supermarket Shooting
A man reads scripture at the site of a memorial honoring the victims of Saturday's shooting on Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y.  Joshua Bessex / AP

Update: This story has been updated to correct the names of one of the victims. 

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