Retired policeman and security guard Aaron Salter Jr., 55, is the renowned hero who promptly embodied an active police officer when an impetuous 18-year-old white gunman fired into the Tops Friendly Markets. where Salter Jr. worked. The 55-year-old, however, lost his life in the battle, leaving behind friends and family who adored him.
Saturday afternoon, teenage suspect Payton Gendron arrived at the supermarket located on the east side of Buffalo, New York, dressed in military fatigues (body armor and tactical helmet) and with racist motives. The suspect first shot four people in the parking lot before proceeding inside the store and was confronted by Salter Jr. with his gun drawn. The two engaged in gunfire; however, Salter Jr.’s bullets couldn’t pierce through Gendron’s body armor, resulting in the gunman shooting and killing Salter Jr. with his assault rifle. 13 people were shot, 11 Black and two white, and ten people died.
City officials called Salter Jr. a “hero” for his actions.
Family members of the former officer shared their emotions with The Daily Beast and gave a clear picture of the kind of person he was before his death.
Salter Jr.’s son, Aaron Salter III, called the day he lost his father a “shock,” adding, “I’m pretty sure he saved some lives today. He’s a hero.”
Cousin of the fallen victim, Adam Bennefield, 44, talked about how the family is saddened and distraught over losing their family member.
“I don’t think anybody could ever anticipate something like this happening,” Bennefield said. “I don’t think anybody can. Everybody’s hurt right now. Everybody’s upset.”
Salter Jr. joined the Buffalo Police Department immediately after high school in the early 1980s and has dedicated his life to protecting his city for 30 years.
According to the Daily Beast, in 1996, he and his police partner were met with a 12-gauge shotgun in their faces during a burglary.
“My first reaction was to duck,” Salter Jr. said in an interview with The Buffalo News. “I don’t enjoy looking down the barrel of a shotgun, and if it hadn’t been for my partner shooting first, it would have been a golden opportunity to shoot us. My partner probably saved us.”
Salter Jr. retired from being a policeman four years ago.