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Buffalo Shooting Victims Identified as Biden Plans Trip to Grieve With the Community

The Wall Street Journal. 5/16/2022 Omar Abdel-Baqui, Jimmy Vielkind, Nicole Friedman
© Robert Bumsted/Associated Press

Law-enforcement officials released the names of the 10 people killed in the mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket, which is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

The deceased victims ranged in age from their early 30s to mid-80s. Most were from Buffalo, including Roberta A. Drury, 32; Celestine Chaney, 65; Katherine Massey, 72; Margus D. Morrison, 52; Heyward Patterson, 67; Geraldine Talley, 62; Pearl Young, 77; and Ruth Whitfield, 86.

Other victims were Aaron Salter, 55, of Lockport, N.Y. and Andre Mackneil, 53, of Auburn, N.Y. The three people injured in the shooting were Zaire Goodman, 20, of Buffalo; Jennifer Warrington of Tonawanda, N.Y., 50; and Christopher Braden, 55, of Lackawanna, N.Y.

President Biden said he and first lady Jill Biden would travel to Buffalo Tuesday “to grieve with the community that lost 10 lives in a senseless and horrific mass shooting.”

“Our hearts are heavy once again but our resolve must not waver; we must work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of this nation,” Mr. Biden said. 

Mr. Salter, one of the victims, was a retired Buffalo police officer who worked as a security guard at the supermarket. He was working when the shooter opened fire in the supermarket parking lot, according to Buffalo police. Mr. Salter fired at the gunman and struck him at least once, but the bullet didn’t pierce his body armor, police said. 

Eleven of the people shot were Black and two were white, in what was the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. so far this year.

Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old white man, was arraigned on murder charges. He pleaded not guilty. 

In a 180-page document posted online that police believe was written by Mr. Gendron, the alleged shooter wrote that he intended to target Black people, and that he picked the shooting site due to the ZIP code’s high percentage of Black residents. He drove 3½ hours from his home in a suburb of Binghamton, N.Y., to commit the shooting, officials said. Black people make up about 80% of the population of the ZIP Code where the supermarket is located, according to 2020 U.S. census estimates.

Mr. Gendron’s document cites rhetoric embraced by white supremacists, making references to a racist conspiracy theory called “great replacement,” which asserts that political elites use immigration and other policies to reduce the white population.  


Video: Biden addresses racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo (The Washington Post)

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The conspiracy theory was cited as inspiration for several violent attacks against Hispanics, Muslims and Jews in the U.S. and abroad since 2018.

Ms. Young, one of the shooting victims, lived for decades on a short street adjacent to Canisius College, according to longtime neighbor Yvette Williams. She was active in her church and raised numerous foster children, Ms. Williams said.

“She was the heart of our village,” Ms. Williams said. “She was taken because of violence and hate, but she loved everybody. She took kids in no matter the color.”

A woman who answered the door at Ms. Young’s house said she was too distraught to comment. Ms. Williams, who now lives in a different part of Buffalo, said she learned of Ms. Young’s death after Ms. Young’s son posted on Facebook.

Mr. Patterson, another victim, was shot outside the store while helping someone load groceries, his family said.

“He liked helping people get home safe with their groceries,” said his cousin Genice Benson. Mr. Patterson was a deacon in a local church and had three children, she said.

“Heyward just was a beautiful person,” Ms. Benson said. “The only thing he tried to do is help his community and help people change their lives.”

Ms. Whitfield had stopped at the Tops Friendly Markets after visiting her husband in a nursing home.

Her son, the city’s former fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield, said he called to check on her after getting word of the shooting.

When she didn’t answer the phone, he drove by her house and then went to the store, where he saw her car in the parking lot, he said on Sunday.

“I spent the rest of the day there,” he said. “It was just a long wait to get confirmation.”

Ms. Whitfield had four children, multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren, her son said. Mr. Whitfield said his father worked multiple jobs so his mother could be a homemaker.

“She was a great mom. She was a staunch advocate for her family,” Mr. Whitfield said. “She died doing what she did every day, which was caring for her family.”

—Ginger Adams Otis contributed to this article.

Write to Omar Abdel-Baqui at omar.abdel-baqui@wsj.com, Jimmy Vielkind at jimmy.vielkind@wsj.com and Nicole Friedman at nicole.friedman@wsj.com

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