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"Aaron saved lives": Heroic Tops security guard laid to rest

Aaron Salt
Posted at 5:45 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 12:17:09-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Standing on the stage at the Chapel at Crosspoint in front of a full church, former Buffalo Police Deputy Commissioner Kimberly Beaty remembered her friend and colleague Aaron Salter as a man with a commanding voice who loved his job to protect and serve.

“Aaron was a good man, a good person,” she said. “We all deserve better.”

On the afternoon of May 14, the retired Buffalo Police Officer Salter was working security at Tops Friendly Markets on Jefferson Avenue. Around 2:30 p.m., he was was doing more than just working security, said Buffalo Police Commissioner Joe Gramaglia. He was in the “customer service business.”

“On May 14 he was doing just that, customer service, by helping one of the victims with her groceries outside when the purest form of evil revealed itself yet again in another act of senseless gun violence,” Gramaglia said.

Gramaglia said Salter ran back into the store to alert customers to leave the building, and stayed up front to confront the gunman head-on.

“Aaron bravely fought evil that day,” he aid. “This fight allowed numerous customers precious seconds to run through the cash register lanes through the back of the store while Aaron remained up front, fighting.”

The Buffalo Police Department posthumously honored Salter with the Medal of Honor and promoted him to Lieutenant.

“Aaron saved lives,” Gramaglia said.

As Salter’s flag-draped casket sat in front of the church, those who knew him best described a community man, a family man, and a man of God.

“He had a good heart, and was a good person,” Beaty said. “He was a quintessential officer and a gentleman. Many times being a woman in uniform, on occasion the male officers don’t open doors for us. Aaron wasn’t that guy. He opened doors, and he helped you carry the box inside that was in your hand. He was a good, good man.”

Longtime friend Nathan Goldsmith said he thought long and hard about what Salter would want him to say.

“I believe that he would want me to say that on one of the darkest days in the history of Buffalo he made a choice to stand tall. He gave all that he had for all that he believed in, protecting and saving lives. I believe that he would want me to say that love is stronger than hate. He would want me to say that hope is greater than fear.”

One of Salter's oldest friends, Rodney Cunningham says Salter knew only how to love.

“Aaron and I wore garmets cut from the same old fabric—given to us by our parents and the people who loved and shaped us. Simply put, we were raised. We weren’t taught to hate, and as a result of that we never developed a taste for hate,” Cunningham said. “As I reflect on Aaron’s professional life, including his heroism on May 14, it is clear to me that he understood and demonstrated what it means and what is required to make America great. He got it.”

Salter, who often rode a motorcycle with Buffalo Police as part of a funeral escort Wednesday got one of his own.

“He’s going to get one today that should be out of this world,” Beaty said.

Salter’s friends, many retired Buffalo Police officers say they have set up a fund to give students at Hutch Tech a scholarship every year in his honor.

Aaron Salter was 55 years old.