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Buffalo mass shooting: Cancer survivor and teacher among Payton Gendron's 10 victims

"This was pure evil. It was a straight-up racially motivated hate crime," Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said
(L-R) Victims Pearl Young, Celestine Chaney, Margus D. Morrison and Katherine Massey (@ndelriego/Twitter)
(L-R) Victims Pearl Young, Celestine Chaney, Margus D. Morrison and Katherine Massey (@ndelriego/Twitter)

BUFFALO, NEW YORK: Ten people were shot dead and three others wounded in a “racially motivated” mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, May 14, when Payton Gendron, 18, opened fire. Gendron drove from 'hours away' in Conklin, New York, to the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue. The shooting took place in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

Eleven of the victims were Black and two of them were White. “We are investigating this incident as both a hate crime and a case of racially-motivated violent extremism,” Stephen Belongia, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo field office, said during a press conference. Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said, "This was pure evil. It was a straight-up racially motivated hate crime."


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Gendron has pleaded not guilty. He was remanded without bail, and a felony hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, May 19. Police have now identified the victims of the horrific attack.

Payton Gendron has pleaded not guilty (Erie County DA)

Ruth Whitfield, 86, had stopped at Tops to buy some groceries after visiting her husband in a Buffalo nursing home. "From her daily sojourn to care for my father, she left the nursing home and stopped right there, a few blocks from the nursing home, at the store to grab something while on the way home. She didn't deserve to be murdered," her son Garnell Whitfield Jr., 65, told PEOPLE. Garnell said that his mother will be remembered as a "staunch family advocate" who was "very proud of her heritage as an African-American" and proud to be a "Black female." She is survived by four children, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.


Aaron Salter Jr, 55, a former Buffalo police officer, is being hailed for trying to stop the gunman. When Gendron tried to enter the supermarket, the longtime security guard and former Buffalo cop tried to stop him. However, Salter's bullet could not pierce the attacker's armor. Gendron then shot Salter dead. A father-of-three, Salter had faced down another gunman in 1996 but managed to escape death. “My first reaction was to duck,” he had told The Buffalo News after a burglary suspect threatened him with a 12-gauge shotgun. “I don’t enjoy looking down the barrel of a shotgun, and if it hadn’t been for my partner shooting first, it would have been a golden opportunity to shoot us. My partner probably saved us.” Salter was pursuing his dream of building vehicles that run on green energy. He had a company called AWS Hydrogen Technologies.


Pearl Young, 77, was a long-term substitute teacher who worked closely with the kids at Emerson School of Hospitality. "She was always laughing and talking non-stop," Stephanie Courtney, who worked with Young at the school in the Buffalo Public School District, said. "The kids loved her. She took over a special ed class with students with profound disabilities. She learned how to Zoom during COVID." Young and her husband lived in Buffalo, and had three children and 10 grandchildren.


Katherine Massey, 72, was an advocate for civil rights and education. She was shopping for groceries at the supermarket when Gendron opened fire. Her sister Barbara told Buffalo News that their brother was supposed to pick her up later. "He killed my sister," Barbara said of Gendron, describing Young as "a beautiful soul."


Celestine Chaney, 65, a breast cancer survivor, celebrated her birthday just days before she was killed in the shooting. Her son Wayne Jones Jr, who was an only child of divorced parents, said that he shared a very close bond with his mom. On Mother's Day, just days before her murder, he celebrated with his mom with a homecooked meal and a sip and paint party. Chaney left behind six grandchildren. 


Geraldine Chapman Talley, 62, had two children -- Genicia Talley, 42, and Mark Talley, 32. She also shared an unbreakable bond with her niece, Kesha Chapman. When her niece heard about the shooting, she immediately traveled to Buffalo from Atlanta. "Auntie Gerri was the sweetest person," Chapman, 46, said. "She didn't like confrontation. She wanted everything to be easy and full of love," she added. Talley reportedly worked for years as an executive assistant.


Roberta Drury, 32, reportedly regularly visited the Tops supermarket. She had recently been helping her brother recover from a bone marrow transplant. Speaking to The New York Times, her sister Amanda Drury said, "She always was the center of attention and made the whole room smile and laugh."


Heyward Patterson, another victim of the shooting, died after being shot while in his truck in the parking lot of Tops supermarket. Patterson's friend Tonie Sanders said he was "a deacon and my best friend," according to Buffalo News. Patterson left behind a wife and daughter. 


Two other victims who were killed in the shooting are Andre Mackneil, 53, and Margus D. Morrison, 52. Andre was at Tops supermarket to buy a birthday cake for his son, who just turned 3, Andre's brother said. Morrison was a father-of-three and was described by family and friends as a “nice person that never bothered anyone.”



Besides the ones who died, Christopher Braden, 55, Jennifer Warrington, 50, and Zaire Goodman, 20, sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Warrington and Goodman have already been released from medical care. 


Five GoFundMe fundraisers were set up by Sunday afternoon, May 15, by communities that wanted to help the families of the victims. GoFundMe has created a webpage with links to each of these fundraisers, which can be accessed from here