Shoppers who were regulars, a retired police officer: What we know about the victims of the Buffalo shooting, an alleged hate crime


Ten people were killed as a result of a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, committed in what investigators described as a possible hate crime.

The victims included four employees of a Tops supermarket, and the rest were customers — several of them regulars at the store — according to the Buffalo Police Department and those who knew them.

The shooting, which took place Saturday afternoon, is being investigated by the FBI as racially motivated violent extremism. Eleven of the 13 victims shot were Black, and two were white, authorities said.

Here is what’s known about the victims so far:

Ruth Whitfield, 86

Ruth Whitfield was returning home from visiting her husband in a nursing home when she stopped by Tops to pick up groceries — “a daily ritual,” her son, Garnell Whitfield, told ABC News Sunday morning.

Ruth Whitfield was in the store when the gunman opened fire and was among the 10 who died in the shooting, Garnell Whitfield, a former Buffalo fire chief, said.

Garnell Whitfield described his mother’s devotion to her family, especially her husband, whose health has been declining over the past eight years.

“She was there just about every day, taking care of him, making sure he was well cared for by the staff, washing, ironing his clothes, making sure he was dressed appropriately, making sure his nails were cut and clean and shaved,” he said. “All of that. Every day.”

Even as her own health began to weaken, Ruth Whitfield still tried to visit her husband each day, taking days off only when she felt too debilitated to make the trip, her son said.

After suffering “a very difficult childhood,” when she became a mother, Ruth Whitfield “was all about family,” Garnell Whitfield said.

“And she rose above it, and she raised us in spite of all of that, being very poor,” he said. “She raised us to be productive men and women.”

Roberta Drury, 32

Roberta Drury, a regular at Tops, was a “vibrant and outgoing” woman who could “talk to anyone,” her sister, Amanda Drury, told ABC News on Sunday.

Roberta Drury was born in Cicero, New York, about 150 miles east of Buffalo, and moved to the city in 2010 after her oldest brother, Christopher Drury, received a bone marrow transplant there to treat his leukemia.

She helped him run his restaurant, The Dalmatia, and care for his family, Amanda Drury said.

“She was always willing to help and laugh,” Amanda said over text.

Aaron Salter, 55

Aaron Salter, a retired Buffalo Police officer, was killed after he confronted the gunman, who entered the store wearing military fatigues, body armor and a tactical helmet.

Salter was working as a security guard and shot the assailant, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph A. Gramaglia told ABC News on Sunday. But the bullets had no effect due to the bulletproof vest the suspect wore, and the gunman returned fire, striking Salter.

Gramaglia described Salter as a “true hero” who undoubtedly saved more lives during the encounter.

“He went down fighting,” Gramaglia said. “He came in, he went towards the gunfire. He went towards the fight.”

One Tops employee, a mother of seven, told ABC News Sunday that if it hadn’t been for Salter, she and her 20-year-old daughter, who was working at the register, would not have known the gunman was headed in their direction.

When she saw Salter pull out his weapon, they knew they had to run, and they both made it out alive, she said.

Salter was a “beloved” employee of Tops, several years after he retired from the police department.

“He took on a responsibility to protect the customers and the employees in the store,” Gramaglia said. “And he did exactly what he signed up for.”

Heyward Patterson, 68

Deacon Heyward Patterson was shot while inside his truck in the parking lot of the supermarket, Pastor James Giles told ABC Buffalo affiliate WKBW.

Patterson’s family described him to the station as a loving person. He leaves behind a wife and daughter.

Pearl Young, 77

Pearl Young, an Alabama native, spent the final years of her life teaching children as a substitute teacher in the Buffalo School District and was heavily involved in her church community, her sister, Mary Craig, told ABC News.

“She loved her students, and they loved her back,” a statement from her family read.

Craig described Young as “such a beautiful, sweet woman.”

“We’re all in shock and disbelief,” she said of the family.

Young leaves behind two sons and a daughter, Craig said.

Young was described in the statement as a missionary who would be “truly missed.”

“Missionary Pearl Young was a worshipper and loved God. She loved her children, her family, and her Good-Samaritan COGIC church family,” the statement read. “She was a true pillar in the community.”

Other who died in the mass shooting include Margus Morrison, 52, of Buffalo; Andre Mackneil, 53, of Auburn, New York; Geraldine Talley, 62, of Buffalo; Celestine Chaney, 65, of Buffalo and Katherine Massey, 72, of Buffalo.

ABC News’ Matt Foster and Will McDuffie contributed to this report.


Source : https://abcnews.go.com/US/shoppers-regulars-retired-police-officer-victims-buffalo-shooting/story?id=84731033

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