A Hero, a Civil Rights Advocate, and a 'Beautiful Soul': Here Are the Victims of the Buffalo Mass Shooting

Ten people were murdered on Saturday when a racially motivated gunman targeted Black customers and employees at the Tops Friendly Markets grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y.

kat Massey, Pearl Young, Aaron Salter, Jr victims of the Buffalo mass shooting
Katherine Massey, Aaron Salter, Jr., Pearl Young. Photo: courtesy

Ten people were murdered on Saturday when a racially motivated gunman targeted Black customers and employees at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y.

The mass shooting took place at about 2.30 p.m. local time at Tops Friendly Markets, which has been described as being in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

In addition to the 10 deaths, three people sustained injuries that are considered non-life-threatening, officials confirmed. According to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, 11 of the 13 total victims were Black.

The shooter, a white male, has since been identified as Payton S. Gendron, 18, of Conklin, N.Y., which is about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo.

The suspect, who officials say livestreamed the attack, was remanded without bail, and a felony hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, according to the DA's office. Gendron has pleaded not guilty.

Below are the victims of the horrific attack in Buffalo, confirmed by the Buffalo Police:

Ruth Whitfield, 86

A 'Hero,' Grandmother, A Loving Wife, 'Beautiful Soul' Sister: Here Are the Victims of Buffalo Mass Shooting. Whitfield, Ruth, 86, Buffalo, NY
Family Photo

Ruth Whitfield had just finished visiting her husband in a Buffalo nursing home when she decided to stop at Tops for some groceries.

"From her daily sojourn to care for my father, she left the nursing home and stopped right there, a few blocks from the nursing home, at the store to grab something while on the way home. She didn't deserve to be murdered," her son, Garnell Whitfield Jr., 65, tells PEOPLE.

"She loved us beyond measure, unconditionally. She loved us to a fault, even when we were wrong." He added, "She was an epitome of love. And we aspire to be as much like her as we can."

According to Garnell, his mom Ruth will be remembered as a "staunch family advocate" who was "very proud of her heritage as an African-American" and proud to be a "Black female." She leaves behind four kids, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Pearl Young, 77

A 'Hero,' Grandmother, A Loving Wife, 'Beautiful Soul' Sister: Here Are the Victims of Buffalo Mass Shooting. Pearly Young, 77:
Pearly Young, 77:. Courtesy Photo

Pearl Young was well-loved by the students and faculty at Emerson School of Hospitality, where the long-term substitute teacher worked closely with the kids.

"She was always laughing and talking non-stop," Stephanie Courtney, who worked with Young at the school in the Buffalo Public School District, tells PEOPLE. "The kids loved her. She took over a special ed class with students with profound disabilities. She learned how to Zoom during COVID."

The Alabama native moved to New York as a young adult and married a minister. The couple, who lived in Buffalo, had three children and 10 grandchildren.

The family said in a statement to PEOPLE, "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."

Katherine Massey, 72

kat Massey, Pearl Young, Aaron Salter, Jr victims of the Buffalo mass shooting
Katherine "Kat" Massey. Courtesy The Massey Family

One year ago this month, Katherine "Kat" Massey wrote an opinion piece for The Buffalo News calling for federal legislation to address the issue of guns in this country.

A year later, the community activist and matriarch fell victim to a mass shooting.

"She always believed in the underdog, she was a really strong woman," her nephew Damone Mapps tells PEOPLE. "She dedicated all her free time to helping others."

Massey worked at Buffalo Blue Cross/Blue Shield for around 40 years before retiring about five years ago. She was on the Buffalo school board, wrote for local paper The Challenger, tutored students, and put her time and money into the Cherry Street neighborhood where she spent her life.

She also proudly kept her focus on her beloved siblings, nieces, and nephews.

"You would have loved her," Mapps tells PEOPLE. "If you met her, you would have liked her, no matter what race, color, or creed, it didn't matter. Kat was just this beautiful heart."

Additionally, Massey's sister Barbara described her late sister as "a beautiful soul."

Celestine Chaney, 65

Celestine Chaney had just marked both her 65th birthday and Mother's Day, days before she was killed in Saturday's mass shooting.

Her son Wayne Jones Jr. tells PEOPLE he had celebrated his beloved mom with a homecooked meal and a sip and paint party the weekend before the tragedy. "We just enjoyed the evening," he says.

As an only child of divorced parents, Jones says he and his mother shared an undeniably tight bond.

Although she loved shopping and playing bingo, he planned to surprise his mom with the gift of travel: a seven-day cruise to the eastern Caribbean, to show her just how much he loved her.

"My son, he wanted to go on a cruise for his birthday in December, and we was going to take her with us," says Jones. "And she didn't even know I was going to take her with us because I was going to surprise her and buy the ticket and have her come with us."

In addition to Jones, Chaney leaves behind six grandchildren.

Geraldine Chapman Talley, 62

Geraldine Talley
Geraldine Talley. Courtesy Divine Zamir

Buffalo resident Geraldine Chapman Talley raised two children, Genicia Talley, 42, and Mark Talley, 32, but was like a second mother to her niece, Kesha Chapman. So when Chapman heard that her beloved Auntie Gerri had been killed in the massacre, she jumped on a plane from Atlanta and headed straight to Buffalo. "Auntie Gerri was the sweetest person," Chapman, 46, tells PEOPLE. A gentle soul, Talley "loved everybody. She was always smiling. She didn't like confrontation. She wanted everything to be easy and full of love."

Chapman's cousin, Tamika Harper, 44, of Buffalo, also thought of Talley as a second mother. "Our cousins are our sisters," she says. "We are a very close-knit family." Talley, who worked for years as an executive assistant and was famous for her mouth-watering cheesecake, stopped into Tops on Saturday with her fiancé to pick up food for dinner. "She was such a beautiful woman," says Harper. "She would give you the shirt off her back. Why did this happen to her? Why?"

Chapman vows to work "to prevent this from ever happening again," she says. "We don't want this to happen anymore." Adds Harper: "Our lives will never be the same."

Aaron Salter, Jr., 55

A 'Hero,' Grandmother, A Loving Wife, 'Beautiful Soul' Sister: Here Are the Victims of Buffalo Mass Shooting. Salter, Aaron Jr., 55, Lockport, NY
AW SalterJr/Facebook

It wasn't the first time Aaron Salter, Jr., a retired Buffalo police officer, had faced down a gunman. But it was the first time he went up against someone fully armed for combat. Working as a security guard at Tops Friendly Markets, Salter attempted to stop the killer.

"That's why he's known as a hero," Salter's cousin Irvin Salter, 60, tells PEOPLE. "Serving and protecting, that's what he was there to do. And he made a difference that enabled people to get away because it altered his plans."

Aaron, a father of three who grew up in a family of musicians in Buffalo, was also known as an inventor who was working on a fuel alternative for vehicles.

"I was most interested in his inventions," says his friend Roscoe Henderson. "Aaron is one of the most intelligent individuals I've every crossed paths with."

Irvin adds Aaron was well-known and well-liked by everyone.

"It's sad when a person just passed away from natural causes, but when you die through someone that wants to eliminate a human being, it really touches home," he shares.

Andre Mackneil, 53

Andre S. Mackniel Sr.
Andre Mackneil. Facebook

It was supposed to be a momentous weekend for Andre Mackneil and his family. The young grandfather had traveled from out of town to celebrate his grandson's birthday in Buffalo, but had one stop to make before their reunion: He wanted to pick up a birthday cake at Tops that he could surprise the 3-year-old with, the Associated Press and WSYR-TV report.

"He never came out with the cake," Mackneil's cousin, Clarissa Alston-McCutcheon, told AP, adding that he was "just a loving and caring guy. Loved family. Was always there for his family."

Margus D. Morrison, 52

Margus Morrison
Margus Morrison. Courtesy Morrison Family

Margus Morrison was the father of seven children, including a stepdaughter.

Life partner Regina Patterson tells PEOPLE that Morrison was her "best friend." When Patterson went to nursing school, Morrison stayed home to raise their three babies and her daughter, Cassandra Demps. "He was a good guy, and that the time, men weren't staying home to be at-home dads," Patterson says.

Demps says Morrison, who loved music and collected sneakers, was "a loving father, a loving partner, a best friend, humorous, and someone who will be truly, truly missed."

Morrison worked as a bus monitor for Buffalo's Stanley Makowski Early Childhood Center, and served as a reassuring presence to Liam Mielcarek, 5, who has autism, and other children with special needs. "Liam called him 'my friend,'" says Liam's mom, Elicia. "Mr. Morrison was a kind and helpful man."

Roberta Drury, 32

Las Vegas' Lovers & Friends Festival Paused over 'Security Incident' Leaving Three Injured. Roberta Drury.
Roberta Drury. Family Photo

Roberta Drury was reportedly a regular at the Tops supermarket. Her brother confirmed to WIVB-TV that his sister was killed in Saturday's shooting.

Roberta was recently helping her brother recover from a bone marrow transplant.

While speaking to The New York Times, her sister Amanda Drury said Roberta "was very vibrant."

"She always was the center of attention and made the whole room smile and laugh," Amanda added.

Heyward Patterson

Buffalo Mass Shooting . Heyward Patterson, 68, to the left of his wife, Tirzah.
Courtesy Photo

Heyward Patterson was among the victims in the Buffalo mass shooting. Pastor James Giles told WKBW-TV that Patterson was shot while in his truck in the parking lot of Tops supermarket.

During a vigil held to honor the victims, Patterson's friend Tonie Sanders went to pay her respect, saying he was "a deacon and my best friend," according to Buffalo News.

"He was a wonderful man, and I am so sad this happened," she shared.

His family described Patterson as a loving person who leaves behind a wife and daughter.

Additionally, Christopher Braden, 55, Jennifer Warrington, 50, and Zaire Goodman, 20, sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the mass shooting. Warrington and Goodman have since been released from medical care.

This is a developing story with more details to come.

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