Joe and Jill Biden Meet with Victims' Families in Wake of Buffalo Shooting: 'From Tragedy Will Come Hope'

The president grew choked up when delivering a speech about the victims, including Andre Mackneil, who was killed while shopping for a birthday cake for his three-year-old son

Joe Biden
Jill Biden (left), Joe BIden. Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty

President Joe Biden grew emotional during a visit to Buffalo, N.Y. on Tuesday, where he and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden met with local officials and families of the victims of Saturday's mass shooting, which killed 10 people.

In public remarks delivered after their meetings with first responders and victims, the President briefly choked up when telling the story of 53-year-old Andre Mackneil, who was killed at the Tops Friendly Market store while shopping for a birthday cake for his three-year-old son.

"Andre Mackneil, 53, worked at a restaurant. Went to buy his three-year-old son a birthday cake," Biden, 79, said, pausing to clear his throat as he listed off all the victims. "His son's celebrating a birthday asking where's daddy."

The president also acknowledged the other victims, including Celestine Chaney, a devoted grandmother who was shopping for strawberries to make her favorite shortcake; Roberta Drury, who had recently moved back home to take care of her brother following a bone marrow transplant.

Elsewhere in his speech, Biden said he and the first lady had come to "grieve with" the families, touching on his own experiences with grief.

"It's not the same but we know a little bit [about] what it's like to lose a piece of your soul — a son, a daughter, a husband a wife, am other, a daughter," he said.

Biden's wife, Neilia, and 13-month-old daughter Naomi were killed in a Christmastime car crash in December 1972 shortly after Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate. The couple's two sons, Beau and Hunter, who were then about to turn 4 and 3, were also in the car and were seriously injured. In 2015, Beau died of brain cancer at 46.

"You're probably not going to believe it but I can tell you now, from our personal experience ... the day's gonna come — it will come — when your loved one brings a smile to your lip before it brings a tear to your eye. It takes a while for that to happen," he said.

US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden
Joe and Jill Biden. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty

Earlier in the day, the Bidens visited a memorial site for the victims, where they placed a bouquet of flowers and stood for a moment of silence.

"Jill and I are in Buffalo to stand with the community and to grieve with the families," the president wrote in a tweet. "As a nation, we must find purpose to live a life worthy of those we lost. We must resolve that from tragedy will come hope and light and life."

Officials have said the shooting took place at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tops Friendly Market store at 1275 Jefferson Avenue in a predominantly Black neighborhood and that the shooter, who targeted Black people, was motivated by white supremacy.

The gunman began shooting in the store's parking lot before entering the store, where he shot more people. Buffalo police who responded to the scene engaged the suspect, who eventually put a gun to his own neck before officers convinced him to drop the weapon and took him into custody.

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said at a Saturday afternoon press conference there were "certain pieces of evidence" he said indicated the crime was motivated by racism, but he did not elaborate on what that evidence was, reports CNN.

Officials said at a Saturday evening press conference that authorities are investigating terrorism charges.

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