“This is too much for my heart,” declared Mercedes Patterson.
Patterson says her relative, who she identified as Heyward Patterson, was shot to death after a gunman opened fire in the Tops parking lot. Patterson says he was sitting in his car at the time.
“He didn't deserve that. Our community didn't deserve that. No one deserves that. It’s wrong,” remarked Patterson.
Patterson referred to her relative as a “loved one” — a man who loved his family and his community.
“An honorable man. A family man. A working man. A community man. An honest man that was at a grocery store in a parking lot”, reflected Patterson.
The pain is extremely raw for Lenny Lane with the F.A.T.H.E.R.S. organization who tells me Patterson was a deacon at his church.
“It’s heart-wrenching. It’s heart-wrenching. It’s heart-wrenching. It's broken,” cried Lane.
Lane posted a message on his Facebook page saying his “heart is broken into a million pieces” over his beloved Deacon Patterson of state tabernacle church.
Lane says Deacon Patterson would often drive people to the Tops store on Jefferson Avenue, who didn't have transportation.
“Deacon Patterson was the one that transported them back and forth to their homes so that they could continue to survive,” noted Lane.
Buffalo School Board member Terrance Heard tells me he met with multiple family members of the victims, but could not identify them for us at this time. I asked him about who he had met.
“All age ranges — little children to a woman who was going to the store because she was going to barbecue for her family and she was running to the store to grab a couple of items — to a man who was engaged to a woman. She didn't make it out but he did,” replied Heard.
Many community members huddled together during a prayer service on Jefferson Avenue to help heal one another.
The raw and unimaginable pain of community members who showed up outside the Jefferson Avenue Tops included a woman tearfully looking at the store.
Others embraced and hugged comforting one another.
Michael Ray felt compelled to come to the scene. He lives nearby and says he and his mom always shop at the Tops location calling the mass shootings “a terrorist attack.”
“How is a kid going to get past this if they were in that tops? How are people in this community going to be able to go back to that Tops? This is the first thing they are going to think of now,” remarked Ray.