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Buffalo mass shooting victim's son: 'My mother taught us how to love'

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Posted at 9:11 AM, May 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 12:53:36-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The mother of former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield was among the 10 people killed when a gunman opened fire at the Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue Saturday afternoon.

Whitfield tells 7 News his mother Ruth Whitfield, 86, died in the mass shooting at the supermarket.

"My mother taught us how to love unconditionally. That's how she loved us completely," Whitfield told 7 News Anchor Ed Drantch.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Sunday that former Commissioner Whitfield went to the scene of the shooting on Saturday to help, and discovered then that his mother was among the victims.

Nine of the victims were customers, four were Tops employees, including security guard Aaron Salter.

Investigators are praising Salter as a hero for trying to stop the shooter. He shot the gunman as he was entering the store, but the bullet did not penetrate his body armor. The suspect returned fire, killing Salter.

Salter was a retired Buffalo police officer who had worked at the Jefferson Avenue Tops for years.

Buffalo Police Department Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia called Salter "beloved," and "a hero in our eyes."

"We're sure he saved lives yesterday," Gramaglia told ABC News Sunday morning.