Pawtucket Times

‘Hero’ guard, shoppers among Buffalo shooting victims

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Aaron Salter was a beloved community member and security guard who knew the shoppers of Tops Friendly Market by name. When they came under attack from a gunman rifle, he sprang into action.

The retired Buffalo police officer fired multiple times at the attacker. The bullet didn’t pierce, and Salter was shot and killed.

“He’s a true hero,” Buffalo Police Commission­er Joseph Gramaglia said Sunday. “There could have been more victims if not for his actions.”

Salter was one of 10 killed in an attack in Buffalo, New York. Three others were wounded.

Salter “cared about the community. He looked after the store,” said local resident Yvette Mack. She remembered him as someone who “let us know if we was right or wrong.”

Mack would walk to the store to play lottery numbers and shop. She said she spoke to Salter shortly before the shooting.

“I was playing my numbers. He said ‘I see you’re playing your numbers!’ I laughed. And he was playing his numbers too. Can you imagine seeing someone, and you don’t know he’s not going to go home?” she said.

The people Salter tried to protect include a man who was in town visiting relatives and was picking up a surprise birthday cake for his grandson.

“He never came out with the cake,” Clarissa Alston-McCutcheon said of her cousin. She said this sort of surprise was typical for him. He was “just a loving and caring guy. Loved family. Was always there for his family.”

Another victim, Heyward Patterson, was a deacon at a nearby church. He’d gone by the church’s soup kitchen before heading to the supermarke­t, where he offered an informal taxi service driving people home with their bags.

“From what I understand, he was assisting somebody putting their groceries in their car when he was shot and killed,” said Pastor Russell Bell of State Tabernacle Church of God in Christ.

Bell said Patterson would clean the church and do anything else that was needed.

“He would meet my wife and I at the door and escort us to the office. We never required him or asked him to do it. He just did it out of love,” Bell said.

Services went on as usual Sunday but it was difficult.

“It was quite a struggle, we had to get through it and our hearts are broken,” he said. “Deacon Patterson was a man who loved people. He loved the community just as much as he loved the church,” he said.

Ruth Whitfield was the 86-year-old mother of retired Buffalo Fire Commission­er Garnell Whitfield. She had just visited her husband at a nursing home, as she did every day, when she was killed buying a few groceries, her son told The Buffalo News.

Ruth Whitfield was “a mother to the motherless” and “a blessing to all of us,” her son said. He attributed her strength and commitment to family to her strong religious faith.

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