by Carolyn Thompson and Matt Sedensky
Buffalo, NY ( Associated Press) – They were caregivers and mentors and assistants, running a job or doing a favor or finishing a change, when their path was a youth driven by racism and hatred and baseless conspiracy theories. crossed with the person.
In an instant, the normality of their day was shattered at Topps Friendly Market in Buffalo, where in and around supermarket aisles, the symbol of the mundane was turned into a scene of mass murder.
Cars were abandoned. Bodies littered the tile floor. The police radio exploded with calls for help.
Investigators will try to piece together the massacre in the coming days in which 10 people were killed, all black and apparently hunted for the color of their skin.
Those who love them have fond memories of those lost who suffered death in the midst of the simple task of buying groceries.
“These guys were just shopping,” said 29-year-old Steve Carlson, mourning his 72-year-old neighbor, Katherine Massey, who checked in frequently, gave them presents on their birthdays and Christmas, and had a helping hand. I used to press money. yard work. “They had gone to get food to feed their family.”
Came voluntarily to a food bank. Another was taking care of her husband at her nursing home. Most were in their 50s and beyond, destined for more, even if they just planned on making dinner.
Shonell Harris, a manager at the store, was stocking shelves when she heard what she thought must have been more than 70 shots. She ran for the back door, stumbled several times along the way. She wondered where her daughter, a grocery clerk, was, and turned to the front of the shop.
He saw someone being shot, he said, and a man who was ready for the military.
“Like a nightmare,” Harris told The Buffalo News, shaken but grateful to find her daughter safe.
The horrific scene was broadcast online by the gunman, a video notable not only for the cold blood of the murders, but for how fast they unfolded. In a deafening rat of gunfire, 10 voices fell silent, their stories left for others to tell.
of a woman whose niece swore she was “the apple of God’s eye”. A longtime policeman who became a guard at the shop and whose son knew he was a hero died. One of the ace baker’s who will shirt you off his back.
Garnell Whitfield Jr., whose mother Ruth Whitfield, 86, was killed in the attack, said she had come to the top after her daily ritual at her husband’s nursing home of 68 years. For so many years, Whitfield Jr. said that her mother devoted her life to the people she loved.
“That day was like every other day for my mom,” he said on Monday as he spoke about how he delivered the news to his father.
Hayward Patterson, a 67-year-old deacon at the State Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, was similarly doing the things he had long been known for. He had just come in to help out at his church’s soup kitchen and was now on top, volunteering at the community food service that takes people out of the shop without a ride.
Pastor Russell Bell of Tabernacle Church said he believed Patterson was loading someone’s groceries into his trunk when shots shot him down.
“Wherever he was, he was encouraging people to be the best,” Bell said.
As soon as the customers reached the top before the shoot, their objective was clear.
Roberta Drury, 32, was looking for something for dinner. Andre McNeill, 53, had come to collect a cake for his son’s third birthday. Celestine Chaney, 65, needed some shortcakes to go with the strawberries she cut.
For some people in the store, it was likely a trip required to fill an empty fridge or retrieve a missing ingredient. For Chani, though, it was more than some stubborn work. Stores were his passion.
Her 48-year-old son, Wayne Jones, said he usually takes his mother to shop every week, stopping by grocery store after grocery store to look for the best deals, sometimes hot dogs. Or stops at McDonald’s.
“We used to hit four or five stores looking for a deal,” he laughed, even as his face was covered in tears.
On Saturday, it was Chaney’s older sister, 74-year-old Joanne Daniels, who accompanied her shopping, and the two sisters took a trip through the aisles of Topps. Chani knew she needed shortcakes, but taking a walk around the store, she decided she wanted to make shrimp salad while still filling the cart with her sister. He surveyed the roast beef and complained about the price of the roll before becoming interested in the chicken legs.
“Did you?” He finally asked his sister who she was.
Pop suddenly ricocheted. The sisters thought they were firecrackers, but the others started running. They went in pursuit, but Channi was thrown down. Daniels said she reached out for help, but her sister said she was fine.
“I’m coming,” said Daniel as his sister assured. He felt that Channi was behind him.
Hours before she knew the truth, when her nephew watched video of the shooting: Her younger sister, who had survived three surgeries for breast cancer and an aneurysm, died during a trip to the grocery store.
Sedensky reported from New York. Associated Press writer Robert Bumstead in Buffalo contributed to this report.