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Buffalo shooting victims: ‘Hero’ guard and a teacher who was a ‘pillar of the community’ are among 10 killed

By Alisha Ebrahimji, Dakin Andone and Amir Vera, CNN

A retired police lieutenant. A substitute teacher who was a “pillar of the community.” A beloved grandmother of six. A dedicated community activist.

They were among the 10 people killed in a shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket Saturday — a massacre authorities believe was racially motivated.

Thirteen people, ages 20 to 86, were shot. Eleven were Black and two were White, Buffalo police said. Authorities late Sunday identified the victims:

• Roberta A. Drury, 32, of Buffalo

• Margus D. Morrison, 52, of Buffalo

• Andre Mackniel, 53, of Auburn, New York

• Aaron Salter, 55, of Lockport, New York

• Geraldine Talley, 62, of Buffalo

• Celestine Chaney, 65, of Buffalo

• Heyward Patterson, 67, of Buffalo

• Katherine Massey, 72, of Buffalo

• Pearl Young, 77, of Buffalo

• Ruth Whitfield, 86, of Buffalo

• Zaire Goodman, 20, of Buffalo, was treated and released from hospital

• Jennifer Warrington, 50, of Tonawanda, New York, was treated and released from hospital

• Christopher Braden, 55, of Lackawanna, New York, had non-life-threatening injuries

Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced $2.8 million in funding for the victims and their families, according to a statement from her office. GoFundMe has also compiled a list of verified fundraisers dedicated to helping in the wake of the tragedy.

“The past 24 hours have been traumatizing for New Yorkers,” Hochul said in a statement Sunday. “The entire world is watching how we will come together as New Yorkers to overcome this unthinkable tragedy. Buffalo, my hometown, is the City of Good Neighbors and New York State will be good neighbors for them.”

New York state’s Office of Victim Services will be in Buffalo throughout the week to help administer funding and assist victims and families in obtaining financial assistance from the state, the statement read.

The suspected shooter — Payton S. Gendron, an 18-year-old White man — traveled hours to target the Tops Friendly Markets store in a predominantly Black neighborhood, Mayor Byron Brown said.

Investigators are also reviewing a hateful rant posted online Saturday in connection with the shooting probe, two federal law enforcement officials told CNN. The statement’s author describes himself as a fascist, a White supremacist and an anti-Semite.

Here’s how loved ones are remembering those who lost their lives:

Celestine Chaney

Sixty-five-year-old Celestine Chaney was a grandmother to six and a loving and caring person, her grandson Wayne Jones Jr. told CNN.

Jones, 27, had planned to surprise his grandmother Sunday with flowers, perfume, a meal and some quality time together since he had to work on Mother’s Day.

“That’s the most devastating part about it,” he said. “I just wanted to do something real nice for her because I can, so I took this extra hard … that had been my plan all week.”

Above all, Jones said, his grandmother was a fighter. Chaney beat breast cancer a few years ago and when Jones was younger, he said, she had battled three brain aneurysms — but always fought her way through her health problems.

Cheney was at the Tops market with her sister when she was killed, her son, Wayne Jones, told CNN. Her sister called Jones after the shooting to tell him she couldn’t find Cheney, so he went to the store to search for her. Initially, the family thought she had been brought to the hospital for treatment, but later found out she had died.

“The whole family is devastated,” Jones Jr. said. “And it’s just a shock … you never expect something like this to happen to you … you just pray for everybody else with the trauma that they went through and now you’re living in it.”

With Chaney there was “never a dull moment,” the younger Jones said. She hardly ever got mad at him and she was always laughing, he said.

“Your world is just shaken up,” he said, “And it’s just hard to get back to reality because the reality of it is my grandmother just passed and others lost their lives over nonsense over nothing, basically because of the color of their skin.”

Roberta Drury

Roberta Drury, 32, moved to Buffalo around eight years ago. She dedicated much of her time to helping her brother with his leukemia treatment and assisting her family with running their restaurant, The Dalmatia Hotel, her brother Christoper Moyer told CNN.

“She enjoyed helping us with the restaurant and because she lived so close to me she was able to help with babysitting,” said Moyer. “She will definitely be missed.” 

Drury was a very happy person who had a good heart, enjoyed going to events with her family and always wanted to do the right thing, said Moyer.

Drury’s friends reached out to Moyer, expressing concern when his sister didn’t come back from the supermarket.

“At first I saw the news report and I thought maybe she just hung around the area to see what was going on but after a while I knew something was wrong,” he said.

Katherine Massey

Katherine Massey, 72, known as “Kat,” was an activist who “will be greatly missed by the entire community,” Eva Doyle, a retired Buffalo schoolteacher and longtime friend told CNN.

Massey, was a sincere, thoughtful and honest writer who often wrote about issues affecting the Buffalo community, said Doyle.

Doyle and Massey last saw one another at a rally against illegal guns, said Doyle.

A year ago, Massey wrote a letter to the editor of the Buffalo News urging federal action to prevent needless shooting deaths.

Betty Jean Grant, a former Erie County legislator and longtime friend of Massey’s, said her family is still in shock at their loss.

“Kat was a city advocate,” she said. “She would go to the city office and ask about certain problems and issues … she wanted to know how she could make Buffalo better so based on that, we developed a friendship.”

Margus Morrison

Margus Morrison, 52, was out buying snacks at the grocery store for a weekly movie night he had planned with his wife, his stepdaughter Sandra Demps told CNN.

Demps described Morrison as a “hero” to the family who took on a lot of responsibilities and helped provide for her mother, who is disabled.

Morrison was a sneaker collector and loved music, said Demps. He will be remembered for his love, kindness and humor.

As a school bus aide of three years in the Buffalo area, that love extended to the kids he worked with and they returned that love back to Morrison, said Demps.

“It’s a very big loss to the community,” she said.

Morrison is survived by his wife, three children and stepdaughter.

Heyward Patterson

Heyward Patterson “took pride in helping people,” said his nephew, Terrell Clark. Patterson was a 67-year-old taxi driver who was waiting for passengers outside the supermarket Saturday when he was gunned down, said Clark.

“And if the person had little or no money, he would still give them a ride,” Clark said. “He had a big heart.”

Clark remembered his uncle — a father of three — as a happy man who always wore a smile. He enjoyed telling jokes, singing at his church and always “dressed to impress,” Clark said.

When he learned of the shooting, Clark messaged and called Patterson, he said, but knew something was wasn’t right when his uncle didn’t respond.

“I knew something was wrong. He never ignores my calls,” Clark said. “I can’t believe this happened. My heart is broken into a million pieces.”

Heyward also served as a deacon at a Buffalo church. His friend and fellow deacon, Lenny Lane, said Heyward was a person “you would love to have around you.”

“He was a protector,” Lane told CNN. “He was a provider not only for his family but for the community. He will be sorely missed.”

Aaron Salter

The “hero” security guard who engaged the suspect but was fatally shot was Aaron Salter, a former Buffalo police lieutenant, said the mayor.

Salter was well respected throughout the police department, Brown told CNN’s “New Day Weekend,” and had worked at the supermarket for several years after retiring.

He was a loving son who “had a caring spirit and a desire to take care of other people,” Brown said.

Salter “is a hero who tried to protect people in the store, tried to save lives and in the process, lost his own life,” Brown added.

The supermarket’s security guard “fired multiple shots at the suspect” when he entered the store, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said, but the suspect was wearing tactical gear that protected him from the guard’s gunfire.

Geraldine Talley

Geraldine Talley, 62, was doing her regular grocery shopping with her fiancé on Saturday when she was shot and killed, her niece Lakesha Chapman told CNN.

Chapman lives in Atlanta and had just arrived in Buffalo to be with family on Sunday when she talked to CNN by telephone. Talley was her father’s little sister, Chapman said, calling her “Auntie Gerri.”

Chapman described Talley as an amazing woman.

“She’s sweet, sweet, you know, the life of the party,” Chapman said. “She was the person who always put our family reunion together, she was an avid baker … mother of two beautiful children.”

“She was just a lover. I mean she didn’t meet a stranger, and that’s why this hurts so much,” said Chapman.

Chapman said Talley was at the front of the store when the shooting started and her fiancé had gone to get orange juice, so he was able to escape unharmed.

Five hours went by before her family found out she had been killed, Chapman said.

“We’re outraged,” she said. “This is not, obviously, the first racially triggered attack in America. However it is the first that hits our home.”

It is “the most numbing, numbing feeling ever,” she said.

“She was shopping and this man comes out of his neighborhood to attack because of her skin color, because of her ZIP code, you know, because it was predominantly Black,” Chapman said. “She was innocent. And it’s — there’s no words to describe it.”

Ruth Whitfield

Also killed was 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, the mother of former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield, Brown told CNN.

The mayor had seen her son walking on Jefferson Avenue, the road outside the supermarket, and assumed Garnell Whitfield was there to lend a hand, Brown recalled Sunday to worshipers at the True Bethel Baptist Church. The mayor asked the former fire commissioner if he was there to help.

“He said, ‘Yes, mayor. But I’m here because I’m looking for my mother,'” Brown said.

Ruth Whitfield had been visiting the former commissioner’s father in the nursing home, as she did each day, he told the mayor, and she stopped at the supermarket to buy some groceries.

“We’ve been calling her and she’s not answering the cell phone. And her car is still in the parking lot. And I’m afraid that she’s one of the victims of this shooting,” Brown recalled Garnell Whitfield saying.

His fears were later confirmed, Brown said.

Speaking at the same event, Hochul said, “We must do something about this.”

“I thought I was strong,” she said, “but hearing the mayor tell the story of our commissioner who’s dedicated his life to saving lives and loses his mother over an act of racism and White supremacy in this community — now I’m angry, my friends.”

Pearl Young

Pearl Young, 77, was a substitute teacher and a “true pillar in the community,” her family said in a statement.

“Pearl was a long-term substitute teacher with the Buffalo Public School District and recently worked at Emerson School of Hospitality,” according to the statement.

“If there is one consolation that we can take from this tragedy is that we know that mom is up in heaven with our dad (her Ollie) and dancing and shouting with our heavenly father,” the statement read.

Zaire Goodman, wounded

Zaire Goodman, 20, was the only Black person shot Saturday who did not die, according to New York state Sen. Tim Kennedy. Goodman’s mother, Zeneta Everhart, is the director of diversity and inclusion in Kennedy’s office, and the state senator visited with the family on Sunday, he said.

Now, a week out from his 21st birthday, Goodman is recovering at home, Kennedy said.

“He is recovering well. He is bandaged up,” Kennedy told CNN’s “New Day” on Monday. “He is visiting with family and he’s taking care of himself and his incredible mother is taking care of her son.”

The 20-year-old worked at the supermarket, Goodman’s grandfather confirmed to Buffalo News.

Goodman was shot “through the neck,” Kennedy said, and the state senator believes he was spared by “divine protection.”

“There is no question in my mind that God was with us that day and spared Zaire to see his 21st birthday,” Kennedy said.

“We will have a great celebration next week,” he added, “but do you know what? There were 10 people that will never see their families again.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of Andre Mackniel. It also gave an incorrect health condition for Celestine Chaney. She had three brain aneurysms.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Liam Reilly, Samantha Beech, Artemis Moshtaghian, David Williams and Caroll Alvarado contributed to this report.

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