BUFFALO, NY (AP) — Aaron Salter was a beloved community member and security guard who knew Tops Friendly Market shoppers by name. When they were attacked by a man with a gun, he quickly sprang into action to protect his community.
The retired Buffalo police officer fired multiple shots at the assailant, hitting his armored vest at least once. The bullet did not penetrate and Salter was shot and killed.
“He’s a real hero,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Sunday. “There could have been more victims without his actions.”
Salter was one of 10 killed in an attack whose victims represented a cross section of life in the predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. They were shot by a white man who authorities say showed up at the store for the “express purpose” of killing black people. Three others were injured.
Salter “cared about the community. He was taking care of the store,” said Yvette Mack, a local resident. She remembered him as someone who “let us know if we were right or wrong”.
Mack was going to the store to play lottery numbers and shop and said he spoke to Salter shortly before the shooting.
“I was playing my numbers. He said ‘I see you playing your numbers!’ I laughed. And he also played his numbers. Can you imagine seeing someone and you don’t know they won’t go home? »
The people Salter tried to protect include Ruth Whitfield, the 86-year-old mother of retired Buffalo fire marshal Garnell Whitfield. She had just returned from visiting her husband at a nursing home, as she did every day, when she stopped in Tops to buy some groceries and was killed, Whitfield told The Buffalo News.
Ruth Whitfield was “a mother to orphans” and “a blessing to us all”, her son said. He attributed his strength and commitment to his family to his strong religious faith.
“She inspired me to be a man of God and to do whatever I do the best that I could. I couldn’t have done it without her,” Whitfield said.
Client Katherine Massey, whose sister, Barbara Massey, called her a “beautiful soul”, was also killed.
Zaire Goodman, 20, was shot in the neck but was recovering, State Sen. Tim Kennedy said Sunday at a church service. Goodman is the son of a Kennedy staffer.
“I’m devastated. I’m angry,” Kennedy said. “And I’m thinking of the families who won’t be hosting a loved one tonight.”