Aaron Salter Jr., a Black security guard killed Saturday (May 14) in a gunfire exchange with the Buffalo mass shooter, was a retired cop and a “hero.”
“Today is a shock. I’m pretty sure he saved some lives today. He’s a hero,” his son, Aaron Salter III, told The Daily Beast.
Salter began working at the Tops Friendly Markets store as a security guard after serving for three decades as an officer with the Buffalo Police Department.
According to investigators, Payton Gendron, 18, entered the Upstate New York supermarket with a military-style assault rifle and opened fire. Salter shot the gunman, but Gendron was wearing body armor that the ex-cop’s bullet couldn’t pierce. The teenager returned fire, killing Salter.
According to the Associated Press, Gendron killed ten people, and authorities believe it was a racially motivated attack. He allegedly researched the local demographics and chose that supermarket to kill as many Black people as possible. Gendron shot, in total, 11 Black people and two white people Saturday.
“I don’t think anybody could ever anticipate something like this happening. I don’t think anybody can. Everybody’s hurt right now, everybody’s upset,” Salter’s cousin, Adam Bennefield, told The Daily Beast.
Salter leaves behind three children. His mother, Carol Salter, worked as a cashier at a Buffalo Tops supermarket for 15 years before becoming a front-end manager until retiring in 1986, according to The Daily Beast. She and her husband, Aaron Salter, Sr., opened a dry cleaning business.
Salter joined the Buffalo Police Department after graduating high school. According to his LinkedIn page, he launched green energy named AWS Hydrogen Technologies after retiring. He was working on a clean-energy car engine project.