Like Every Day: 10 Lives Lost on a Trip to the Store

Written by Caroline Thompson and Matt Sedinsky

May 17 2022 GMT

Buffalo, NY (Associated Press) – They were carers, protectors, and helpers, running a mission, providing a service, or finishing a shift, when their paths crossed with a young man driven by racism, hate, and baseless conspiracy theories..

In a flash, the habit of their day was broken at Buffalo’s Top Friendly Market, as the symbol of everyday life in and around supermarket aisles was turned into a scene of mass murder.

Abandoned vehicles. Bodies scattered on the tile floor. Police radios cracked with calls for help.

For days to come, investigators will try to piece together the massacre of 10 people, all black, apparently looking for the color of their skin.

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(AP video/Robert Baumstead)

Those who loved them are left with memories of the missing, who suffered death amid the simple task of buying groceries.

“These guys were just shopping,” said Steve Carlson, 29. Mourning for his 72-year-old neighbour, Catherine Massey, who would check in often, give him gifts on his birthday and at Christmas, and squeeze money into his hand when he was helping out with the yard work. They went to get food to feed their families. “

One came from volunteering at a food bank. Another was taking care of her husband in the nursing home. Most were in their fifties and beyond, and was destined for more, even if it was only the dinner they had planned.

Shonell Harris, a manager at the store, was stocking shelves when I heard that the first thing I thought should be more than 70 rounds. I ran towards the back door, and stumbled several times along the way. She wondered where her daughter, a grocery clerk, was, and headed to the front of the store.

She said she saw someone being shot, and a man who looked like he was wearing an army uniform.

“Like a nightmare,” Harris told The Buffalo News, shivering but grateful she found her daughter safe.

The horrific scene was broadcast on the Internet By the gunman, a video of not only the cold-blooded killings, but how quickly they unfolded. In the deafening shooting, 10 voices were silenced, and their stories were left for others to read.

To a woman who swore to her niece “The apple of God’s eye.” From an old cop who became a storekeeper and His son learned that he died a hero. to The ace baker who will give you the shirt off her back.

Jarnell Whitfield Jr., whose 86-year-old mother, Ruth Whitfield was killed in the attack, said she came to Tubbs after her daily ritual of visiting her 68-year-old husband in a nursing home. In many ways, and for many years, Whitfield Jr. said his mother devoted her life to those she loved.

“That day was like any other for my mother,” he said on Monday, as he thought about how to pass the news to his father.

Heyward Patterson, a 67-year-old deacon at the State Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, has been doing similarly the things for which he has long been famous. He just came in from helping out in the soup kitchen at his church and is now in Tops, a Jitney Community Service volunteer that transports people without a ride to and from the store.

Reverend Russell Bell of Temple Church said he believed Patterson was carrying someone’s groceries in his trunk when the shots dropped him.

“Wherever he was, he was encouraging people to be their best,” Bell said.

With customers arriving at Tops before the shooting, their goal was clear.

Roberta Drury, 32, was looking for something for dinner. Andre McNeil, 53, came to bring a cake for his son’s third birthday. Celestine Chaney, 65, needed some mini muffins to go with her sliced ​​strawberries.

For some at the store, it’s likely a necessary trip to fill an empty refrigerator or get a missing ingredient. For Chaney, it was more than a stubborn chore. Stores were her passion.

Her son, Wayne Jones, 48, said he usually takes his mom shopping every week, stopping by grocery store after grocery store in search of the best deals, with occasional stops to buy a hot dog or McDonald’s.

He laughed even when his face was wet with tears: “We hit four or five stores looking for a bargain.”

On Saturday, it was Chaney’s older sister, JoAnn Daniels, 74, who accompanied her while shopping, and the two sisters took a meandering trip through the aisles of the Tops. Chaney knew she needed little cakes, but was walking around the store and decided she wanted to make shrimp salad too, laughing with her sister as she filled the wagon. She surveyed the roast beef and complained about the price of the rolls before paying attention to the chicken legs.

“I finished?” Finally she asked her sister, who she said she was.

Suddenly pops rebounded. The two sisters thought they were crackers, but the others started running. They went to follow, but Chaney fell to the ground. Daniels said she came to help, but her sister said she was fine.

“I’m coming,” Daniels said to her sister. I thought Chani was behind her.

Hours passed before she knew the truth, when her nephew watched the video of the shooting: Her baby sister, a breast cancer survivor and three aneurysm surgeries, died on a trip to the grocery store.

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Sedensky reported from New York. Writer Robert Baumstead of The Associated Press in Buffalo contributed to this report.

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