A retired police officer turned security guard at a Buffalo supermarket where 10 people were shot and killed on Saturday is being praised for his bravery.
According to officials, the actions that Aaron Salter Jr. took to confront the suspected gunman inside Tops Friendly Markets before he was killed likely saved the lives of others.
Salter Jr., 55, was a member of the Buffalo Police Department for 30 years before retiring in 2018. At Tops Friendly Markets, he was known as the supermarket’s friendly security guard, reports People.com.
“He’s a true hero, and we don’t know what he prevented. There could have been more victims if not for his actions. He’s been retired for several years. He’s been a beloved member and employee of Tops here, working security. He went down fighting,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said on ABC’s “This Week.”
At a press conference on Sunday, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia spoke more about the heroic actions of Salter and Buffalo police, who responded to the scene of the shooting within a minute of it being reported and confronted the suspect, CBS reports.
“The bravery by the Buffalo police officers … I just cannot say enough about their actions,” said Garcia. “I can’t say enough about our retired fellow colleague, Aaron Salter, who confronted this individual to save the lives of others. May he rest in peace.”
State and federal authorities are investigating the deadly attack as a racially motivated hate crime. Eleven of the 13 people who were shot were Black, including Salter.
The shooter appears to have planned the massacre for several months. According to People.com, a review of an online manifesto suggests that the suspected gunman, 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron, is a white supremacist who drove over three hours to Buffalo to murder people in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
Gendron was arrested and arraigned on a murder charge. He is being held in custody under suicide and has pleaded not guilty.