Honoring the victims of the tops mass shooting
By: Nina Cray
On Saturday afternoon on May 14th, 2022, tragedy struck the Tops on Jefferson Avenue on the East Side of Buffalo. Shots were fired after an 18-year-old Broome County resident drove over 200 miles to target one of the only grocery stores in the predominantly Black community. Ten victims were killed – all Black – and three more were injured.
The Buffalo community continues to grieve and stands with the families of these victims. On Tuesday, May 17th, crowds gathered across the street from Tops to honor the deceased victims.
Among them, 55-year-old Aaron Salter, beloved Tops security guard and hero in the eyes of the Buffalo community and Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. Salter was a retired police officer who was working that day at Tops and returned fire to the shooter. The shooter’s armor protected him, and Salter was fatally shot. Salter was a father, Lockport native and former substitute teacher who will be missed.
Celestine Chaney, 65, was a church regular and breast cancer survivor. “She was probably the sweetest person you could meet,” said Dominique Brown, Chaney’s granddaughter. “Very loving, very giving, very kind.” Chaney loved Bingo and going shopping.
Deacon Heyward Patterson frequently drove locals to Tops who didn’t have access to transportation. “He would give the shirt off his back,” said Patterson’s former wife, Tirzah Patterson. “You ask, he’ll give it. If he don’t got it, he’ll make a way to get it or send you to the person that can give it to you.” Deacon Heyward was 67 years old.
Geraldine Talley, 62, was shopping with her fiancé that day. He survived, as the two had been shopping in different areas at the time the shooting started. Talley’s sister, Kaye Chapman-Johnson, was devastated. “Our lives will definitely never be the same again,” she said.
The walk to Tops was just a few minutes for Margus D. Morrison, 52, who was in search of chicken for dinner that night. For the past four years, Morrison had worked as a school bus aide. He was a Buffalo native and father of three.
Auborn, New York native Andre Mackniel (spelled Mackneil in some reports) was picking up a surprise birthday cake for his son. Jahon Smith, Mackniel’s cousin said that Andre was a loving father and grandfather. “This is a very hard time for the family,” Smith said. “I hope justice is served.” Mackniel was 53 years old.
Katherine Massey, 72, had a letter published to the Buffalo News just a year ago calling for stronger gun regulations and oversight. Massey very was involved in the community, local schools and elections. “She was the most wonderful person in the world,” Barbara Massey, her sister, said. “She’d cut grass in the local park, do the trees, give kids on the street toys. That was my sister, anyone she could help.”
Pearl Young was 77 and loved the church. She was a regular at a soup kitchen where she prepared and distributed food. Young often baked cookies and large pots of vegetable soup, along with leading youth groups, teaching Sunday school and working as a substitute teacher.
Roberta A. Drury moved from Syracuse to Buffalo to help her older brother take care of his kids after he was diagnosed with leukemia. “She dropped everything to move out there and play house aunt,” Amanda Drury, their sister, said. Roberta was 32.
Ruth Whitfield, 86 was a mother of four, including retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield. “My mom was the consummate mom. My mother was a mother to the motherless,” Garnell said. “She was a blessing to all of us. She loved God and taught us to do the same thing.”
Mansoor, Sanya. May 16th, 2022. TIME. The Lives Lost in a Buffalo Supermarket. <https://time.com/6177142/buffalo-shooting-victims/>Attachments area