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Buffalo teen whose aunt, cousin were inside grocery store during attack: ‘We’ve got to come together’

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A Buffalo teen is calling on Americans to “come together” and “build each other up” in the wake of a hate-fueled mass shooting just blocks away from his home, which left 10 people dead and three more wounded.

President Biden visited the community Tuesday to condemn White supremacy after police arrested Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old from hundreds of miles away, in what FBI Director Christopher Wray is calling “a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.”

“It’s good to see our president doing something,” Michael Cole told Fox News Digital Tuesday. “Stepped it down, showed us some humbleness.”

Michael Cole lives just blocks away from the Tops Friendly Market targeted in what the FBI calls a “racially motivated” hate crime attack. He said his aunt and cousin were inside during the massacre. Inset: Suspected killer Payton Gendron, who authorities said streamed the attack over Twitch and posted a hate-filled screed online.
(Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital, Inset: Erie County District Attorney)

PRESIDENT BIDEN VISITS BUFFALO, MEETS VICTIMS’ FAMILIES AFTER TOPS MARKET ATTACK

The president’s motorcade arrived at the Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue around 10 a.m. Biden and first lady Jill Biden approached a makeshift memorial on Landon Street carrying flowers.

They spent about 10 minutes there before departing to meet with families of the victims and responding officers at a nearby community center. Gathered local residents cheered the president’s armored limousine as it left the parking lot.

“It was pretty cool seeing, first ever [time] seeing the president drive by in my life,” Cole said, despite the circumstances of the commander-in-chief’s visit. 

Mourners have erected multiple memorials around the area of the Tops supermarket, where 10 people were killed and there others were wounded during Saturday's mass shooting.

Mourners have erected multiple memorials around the area of the Tops supermarket, where 10 people were killed and there others were wounded during Saturday’s mass shooting.
(Fox News Digital/Michael Ruiz)

Cole said he lives in the immediate area and that he went to the Tops store “almost every day” – and that his cousin and aunt were inside at the time of the massacre. 

BUFFALO SHOOTING SURVIVOR RECOUNTS HARROWING ESCAPE AFTER WITNESSING START OF ‘HATE’-FUELED ATTACK

“I feel as if, if everyone was to just come together, and everyone was allowed to be just people, I feel like the world would just work a lot better,” he said. “That’s what we should just work on, just being a community together, instead of trying to hurt each other…We should all build each other up and we should all just be one.”

Dean Lewis, a U.S. Army veteran who grew up in the neighborhood and still has family members living just blocks from the scene of the crime, called the attack “senseless and ridiculous.”

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden look at a memorial in the wake of a weekend shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, U.S. May 17, 2022.  

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden look at a memorial in the wake of a weekend shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, U.S. May 17, 2022.  
(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

He also said he had previously worked with Aaron Salter, the security guard who exchanged gunfire with the attacker and died trying to save others. 

Gendron is accused of fatally shooting 10 people Saturday afternoon and livestreaming the alleged hate crime attack on Twitch. Three other people were injured. Eleven of the victims were Black, according to city police, and he is accused of posting a 180-page document online explaining his plan and motives.

“People need to set aside their differences because guess what? There are no differences,” Lewis said. “You bleed the same color I do. If your blood type was mine or vice versa, and you had a car wreck, would you want my blood if that’s gonna save your life?”

The deceased victims have been identified as Roberta A. Drury, 32, Margus D. Morrison, 52, Andre Mackneil, 53, Aaron Salter, 55, Geraldine Talley, 62, Celestine Chaney, 65, Heyward Patterson, 67, Katherine Massey, 72, Pearl Young, 77, and Ruth Whitfield, 86.

This photo dated Oct. 24, 2011 shows Katherine Massey walking near the corner of Elmwood and Tupper in Buffalo, N.Y. Massey was one of the victims killed in the grocery store shooting in Buffalo on Saturday. Her sister calls her "a beautiful soul."

This photo dated Oct. 24, 2011 shows Katherine Massey walking near the corner of Elmwood and Tupper in Buffalo, N.Y. Massey was one of the victims killed in the grocery store shooting in Buffalo on Saturday. Her sister calls her “a beautiful soul.”
(Robert Kirkham/The Buffalo News via AP)

Three injured survivors were identified as Zaire Goodman, 20, Jennifer Warrington, 50, and Christopher Braden, 55.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has called the attack “a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.” Federal authorities are pursuing additional charges.

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Gendron was charged with first-degree murder in Buffalo City Court. He was arraigned late Saturday and pleaded not guilty. The judge ordered him held without bail, and he is due back in court on Thursday. Prosecutors have hinted that additional charges will be forthcoming. 

After visiting a makeshift memorial outside the market, Biden met with victims’ families and responding officers at a nearby community center. Then he addressed the country, condemning hatred and calling for enhanced gun control measures.

“In America, evil will not win, I promise you,” Biden said. “Hate will not prevail. White supremacy will not have the last word. Evil did come to Buffalo. It has come to too many places.”

Fox News’ Emmett Jones and Matteo Cina contributed to this report.

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