HEROIC security guard Aaron Salter Jr is among the victims named after a mass shooting at Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, New York, reports say.
Payton Gendron, 18, was wearing tactical body armor and a helmet as he entered the Tops Friendly Market shortly after 2.30pm, allegedly opened fire on Saturday, killing ten – including Salter.
The retired Buffalo Police Department cop pictured right, was named as the first victim of the alleged teen gunman who began shooting after driving five hours to the grocery store.
“Today is a shock,” his son, Aaron Salter III, told The Daily Beast in Lockport, a suburb of Buffalo.
“I’m pretty sure he saved some lives today. He’s a hero.”
Johnny Juliano, Salter’s cousin, also posted on Facebook: “R.I.P to my cousin Aaron “salt man “ Salter jr. A true hero who risked his life trying to defend those helpless during a racist attack/ mass shooting.
“Retired BPD who was loved by all you truely will be missed and remembered for your heroic gesture.
“May god look over our family during this hard time and please pray for us and the families of all the other victims in this tragedy. Pray for Buffalo!”
In a CBS broadcast earlier this evening, Salter’s heroic efforts to stop the alleged shooter were praised by both the mayor and his former colleagues.
A second victim, Ruth Whitfield, has also been named by her family, according to The Buffalo News.
Her son, retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield, paid tribute to the 86-year-old, telling the outlet: “My mom was the consummate mom. My mother was a mother to the motherless. She was a blessing to all of us. She loved God and taught us to do the same thing.”
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Pearl Young, 77, has also been confirmed as one of the fallen after the shooting in a series of social media posts.
Jimmie Smith shared a snap of her on Facebook, writing: “I’m soooo sorry this happened! You did NOT DESERVE THIS!
“You were so sweet and beautiful on the inside and out! YOU REALLY DID LOVE THE LORD!!!!
“R.I.P Mother Pearl Young You will never be forgotten!!!! #RIP #buffalomassshooting #COGIC #LordHaveMercy.”
Reporter Madison Carter also tweeted: “Pearly Young, 77, was killed today in #Buffalo shopping for groceries.
“For 25 years she ran a pantry where every Saturday she fed people in Central Park. Every. Saturday.
“She loved singing, dancing, & being with family. She was mother, grandma, & missionary. Gone too soon.”
During an emotional press conference, Eerie County Sherrif John Garcia explained that Gendron drove five hours to that specific area, which is a predominately Black community.
Gendron is from Conklin, a community about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo.
When he exited the car, police said he was heavily armed and wearing tactical gear along with a camera that he is accused of using to live-stream the shooting.
Before entering the store, Gendron allegedly shot four people in the parking lot, three of which died.
In total, 13 people were shot and 10 were killed – and Salter was the sole store employee who perished in the bloody rampage.
Buffalo police entered the store and confronted the gunman, police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a news conference.
“At that point, the suspect put the gun to his own neck. Buffalo police personnel — two patrol officers — talked the suspect into dropping the gun.”
“He dropped the gun, took off some of his tactical gear, and surrendered at that point. And he was led outside, put in a police car,” he said.
Salter heroically engaged in gunfire with the accused shooter, but Gendron was wearing armor so he was not hurt.
The suspect was arrested by police at the scene, reports said.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said earlier Saturday: “The fact that this act of barbarism, this execution of innocent human beings could be live-streamed on social media platforms and not taken down within a second says to me that there is a responsibility out there … to ensure that such hate cannot populate these sites.”
The rifle used in the horrific attack was reportedly legal to buy in New York – but it was modified illegally in Pennsylvania, according to CBS.
Authorities worked to quickly get Gendron arraigned on Saturday night.
During the arraignment, he wore a paper gown and a mask and was barefoot.
His lawyer told the judge he was pleading not guilty to the charge of murder in the first degree. His lawyer also requested a forensics exam.
The judge denied bail. After the hearing, the lawyer working with him told WIVB4 he was assigned to represent Gendron by the courts.
He will be back in the courtroom on Thursday morning.
More to follow…
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