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"He took my sister": Victims' families, survivors in disbelief after mass shooting at Buffalo supermarket

Community reacts to Tops shooting rampage
Family, victims react to Tops shooting rampage: "He took my sister who I talked to every day" 04:16

A Buffalo neighborhood is grieving the loss of 10 people who were gunned down at a Tops supermarket over the weekend. The family of one of the victims, 72-year-old Katherine Massey, described her as their "matriarch" and a beloved pillar of the community.

"You need something, she would do it for you," Barbara Mapps said of her sister as the family struggled to make sense of the tragedy.

Massey was shopping at the grocery store Saturday afternoon when the gunman opened fire, an attack that authorities are calling a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism. Police said the suspect, an 18-year-old White man, had driven roughly 200 miles from Conklin, N.Y., to kill Black people, and that he was spotted there the day before the shooting. 

"He took my sister. He took my sister who I talked to every day," Mapps told CBS News.

The 13 victims who were shot, including three who survived the attack, range in age from 20 to 86 years old. 

Keyshanti Atkinson said she was working the cash register when the gunman opened fire. She hid with coworkers in a conference room, and they barricaded the door with a table.

"I couldn't get out the back door. I kept hearing him closer and closer," Atkinson said, adding that she instructed her coworkers to "just please be quiet so that he won't hear us."

Zaire Goodman, a 20-year-old Tops employee who survived a gunshot to the neck, told CBS News national correspondent Jericka Duncan he was feeling a mix of emotions.

"Discomfort. Sadness. Maybe a bit of regret," he said as he wondered why his life was spared.

The accused gunman, Payton Gendron, was charged with first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty. 

Grady Lewis said he spoke to the suspect for more than an hour outside the supermarket a day before the attack. He said the topics ranged from time travel to critical race theory.

"If you asked me right now, 'Is that kid I talked to on Friday racist?' I would tell you no," Lewis said.

The victims also include people like retired Buffalo police officer Aaron Salter, who was working as the security guard at Tops on the day of the shooting, and 86-year-old Ruth Whitfeld, the mother of a former fire commissioner.

Whitfield stopped at the Tops supermarket after visiting her husband at a nearby nursing home. 

"My parents were married for 67, 68 years. We were wonderfully blessed to have them all of this time," Garnell Whitfield, a retired commissioner of the Buffalo Fire Department, told "CBS Mornings." 

"My father had taken ill and had been in this nursing home for the last eight years. My mom was there every day to take care of my father. Every day. She loved him completely. And she was doing what she did every day," he said.

Garnell Whitfield said processing the loss has been "very difficult."

"This is just surreal," he said. "We are in a place that we never expected to be. My mother was the glue that held us together. My mother was my father's caretaker."

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