Watch CBS News

Buffalo community reflects 1 year after supermarket shooting: "My problem is I can't forget"

Buffalo shooting, 1 year later
4 people impacted by Buffalo supermarket shooting reflect 1 year later 06:47

Sunday marked a solemn milestone as a community gathered to remember 10 people who were killed in a targeted, racially-motivated shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. 

The shooting one year ago at Tops Friendly Markets, which shook the city to its core, was commemorated with a moment of silence followed by a memorial service attended by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Letitia James. The service aimed to honor the victims and offer support to those affected by the harrowing incident. 

Garnell Whitfield Jr., who lost his 86-year-old mother, Ruth Whitfield, in the attack, shared his struggle with the attention surrounding the one-year mark.

"I don't need help remembering," he said. "My problem is I can't forget."

Whitfield has channeled his grief into creating Pursuit of tRuth, an organization dedicated to addressing white supremacy and hate, in honor of his late mother. 

Jerome Bridges was working at the grocery store during the shooting. Bridges reflected on the challenges he has faced in the past year, saying it has been "very hard." 

"I'll never want to go through nothing like that ever again. That was horrible," Bridges said. 

On that fateful day, Bridges took quick action to ensure the safety of employees and customers by barricading them in a conference room. 

When Tops reopened two months after the attack, Bridges decided to return to work. He said his motivation to return stemmed from two people: Zaire Goodman, a 20-year-old Tops employee who survived a gunshot to the neck, and Garnell Whitfield's mother, Ruth Whitfield.

Bridges fondly remembered Ruth, who he said had a knack for lifting his spirits and was always kind-hearted. Bridges said he spoke with Ruth 20 minutes before the attack.

"She always used to lift my spirits up. She was a nice, kind lady," Bridges said.  

Fragrance Harris Stanfield, who was working at the grocery store along with her 20-year-old daughter on the day of the attack, shared the impact the shooting had on her.

"I didn't die that day. My daughter didn't die that day. But this man walked past her twice while she's sitting hiding in the store. I had no idea if she was alive or dead. I heard the gunshots coming closer. I did not think I was making it out," Harris Stanfield said. 

She doesn't remember what helped her get through the shooting but now has to live with the psychological injuries she endured. She has not returned to work at the supermarket since the attack.

The gunman who killed 10 people and injured three more in the shooting was sentenced earlier this year to life in prison without parole.

"There can be no mercy for you, no understanding, no second chances," said Judge Susan Eagan while delivering the sentence in court. "The damage you have caused is too great and the people you have hurt are too valuable to this community. You will never see the light of day as a free man ever again."

However, despite the shooting shining a light on the reality of racism, little progress has been made in addressing the issue on a deeper level, according to Zeneta Everhart, Zaire Goodman's mother, who has announced her candidacy for city council.

"After 5/14, the country heard it. They saw racism out there in their faces. But there hasn't really been any change to it, right? We're not really digging deep into domestic terrorism as a nation and dealing with it, right? And so, yeah, it's still the same," said Everhart. 

Whitfield said "white supremacy is alive and well."

"I mean, discrimination, racism, all of those things are still pervasive in our society, in our community," he said. "So many of those things have not changed."

"What has changed? We've changed, right?" Everhart said. "5/14 changed each one of us in different ways and we've seen that we have to be the solution." 

"We now know and others in the community now know their power and they know they have a voice and they can make change in their neighborhood, on their streets. And so that's definitely what's changed because I know it changed me," she added.  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.