Skip to content
Witnesses remember the horror of the massacre

Workers and shoppers described chaos and carnage at Buffalo’s Tops supermarket when an 18-year-old opened fire on the store in what officials called a racially motivated mass shooting on Saturday that left 10 dead and three wounded.

The shooting sent those inside the store fleeing for their lives outside the nearest exit or hiding in coolers. Several friends and family members of those who were at the store are expecting to hear from their loved ones a few hours later.

Authorities have not yet released the names of the victims, but said 11 were black and two were white. One of the victims is a retired Buffalo policeman.

Shonnell Harris, operations manager at The Tops, told The Buffalo News she heard 70 gunshots ring out in the market, which was “full” of weekend buyers.

She said she fell several times as she sprinted to the back of the market. She said she saw the shooter, who was identified as Payton Gendron, of Conklin, New York, more than a three-hour drive from Buffalo.

“It’s like a dream, but I know it’s not a dream,” Harris said.

Buffalo police officers respond to the scene of the mass shooting.
Lori Cappellazzo/POLARIS

Her daughter also works at the supermarket, she told the newspaper. Harris said she was able to find her daughter, who was safe in the back of the store.

“I just grabbed her, hugged her.”

A dairy worker at Tops Market said he took shelter inside the cooler where he had stored milk moments before gunshots rang out.

“I just heard gunshots. Blows and blows and blows,” he told the newspaper. “It looked like things were falling apart.”

Witnesses remember the horror of the massacre
Suspected shooter Payton Gendron appears during his Buffalo court appearance after being arrested.
Mark Mulville/The Buffalo News via AP

He said other frightened people joined him in the cooler.

“I hid. I just hid. I wasn’t going to leave this room.

Veronica Hemphill-Nichols said she was heading to the Tops for a simple trip for a loaf of bread when she saw bodies lying on the ground in the parking lot.

She told the Buffalo News that she “just broke down” after seeing the bodies and was “now trying to shut down.”

Witnesses remember the horror of the massacre
A woman anxiously awaited updates as police investigate the scene of a mass shooting inside a Tops Friendly Market.
AP Photo/Josue Bessex

Opposite the Tops, retired firefighter and nurse Katherine Crofton recalled seeing the Gendron after hearing the gunshots ring out as she sat on her porch with her dog. She told the newspaper that she saw him shoot two women.

“I didn’t see him at first, I turned around and saw him shooting this woman,” Crofton told the newspaper. “She had just walked into the store. And then he shot another woman. She put groceries in her car. I went down because I didn’t know if he was going to shoot me.

She described the tense scene as Gendron emerged from inside the market and was confronted by responders. Crofton said he “just stood there” as law enforcement officers yelled at him, “like he wanted them to shoot him.”

Witnesses remember the horror of the massacre
Workers inside the Tops supermarket recall hearing numerous gunshots.
John Normile/Getty Images

Gendron was arrested by the police and was arrested a few hours later on Saturday.

The mass shooting – which is the largest so far this year, according to Gun Violence Archive – is being investigated ‘as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism’ , Stephen Belongia, the special agent in charge of the FBI Buffalo field office, said at a press conference.

Officials said Gendron arrived at the supermarket heavily armed and wearing tactical gear. In the parking lot, he killed three people and injured a fourth.

Witnesses remember the horror of the massacre
Witnesses recall the horror when suspected shooter Payton Gendron opened fire and killed 10 people at a Tops supermarket.

A security guard and former Buffalo cop tried to stop him and shot Gendron, but the bullet did not pierce his armor. The shooter shot and killed the guard and continued his murderous rampage inside the store.

Gendronn also brought a camera and live-streamed the massacre on Twitch, the streaming platform confirmed. The feed was removed from the site two minutes after filming began, a spokesperson told the Post.