Relatives of Buffalo victim break down in tears: 'This shouldn't have happened'

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The relatives of 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, the oldest victim slain in this weekend's mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, were overcome with emotion at a news conference on Monday.

Ruth Whitfield was a loving wife of 68 years, a devoted mother of four children and a beloved grandmother, her family said.

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She was among the 10 people, all of whom were Black, who were gunned down in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Authorities are calling Saturday's massacre a "racially motivated hate crime."

Through tears and hugs, her family gathered on Monday to speak to reporters alongside attorneys including civil rights attorney Ben Crump. One family member broke down and sobbed multiple times during the news conference.

Ruth Whitfield went to visit her husband every day in the nursing home where's lived for eight years, one of her sons, Garnell Whitfield, a former Buffalo fire chief, told reporters.

He said he doesn’t know how to tell his father that his primary caretaker is gone.

PHOTO: Ruth Whitfield, one of the victims of the shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, NY, is seen in an undated family photo, May 15, 2022. (  )
PHOTO: Ruth Whitfield, one of the victims of the shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, NY, is seen in an undated family photo, May 15, 2022. ( )

"There's nothing we can do that’s going to take away the hurt, take away these tears, take away the pain, take away the hole in our hearts. Because part of us is gone," he said. "For her to be taken from us and taken from this world by someone that's just full of hate for no reason … it is very hard for us to handle right now."

He went on, "What I loved most about my mom is how she loved us, how she loved our family unconditionally. How she sacrificed everything for us."

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Daughter Robin said, "My mom was my best friend. We went fishing together, we went camping together."

To the shooter, she said, "How dare you?"

PHOTO: Attorney Ben Crump comforts a relative of Ruth Whitfield, 86, one of the victims of the May 14 mass shooting in the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. Ten people were killed by a white gunman in a racially motivated attack. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Attorney Ben Crump comforts a relative of Ruth Whitfield, 86, one of the victims of the May 14 mass shooting in the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. Ten people were killed by a white gunman in a racially motivated attack. (ABC News)

Daughter Angela called her mother an "86-year-old powerhouse. She was beautiful, she was immaculate and she loved us."

Garnell Whitfield added: "We're not just hurting -- we're angry … this shouldn’t have happened. We do our best to be good citizens … we believe in God, we trust him, we treat people with decency and we love even our enemies."

MORE: Shoppers who were regulars, a retired police officer: Remembering the victims of the Buffalo shooting

He called out U.S. leaders for not protecting them and said he's speaking out in hopes of contributing to positive change.

"We need help. We're asking you to help us, help us change this. This can't keep happening," he said.

PHOTO: Investigators work the scene of a mass shooting at Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, May 16, 2022. (Matt Rourke/AP)
PHOTO: Investigators work the scene of a mass shooting at Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, May 16, 2022. (Matt Rourke/AP)

Crump called for America to react to hate and bigotry the same way it reacts to terrorism, calling the murders "an act of domestic terrorism."

He spoke of the "accomplices to this mass murder" and the cause of the indoctrination of hate among young people, referring in part to websites, politicians and cable news pundits.

"Even though they didn't pull the trigger, they did load the gun for this young white supremacist," Crump said. "Black America is suffering right now and we need to know that our top leader in America reacts and responds when we are hurt."

PHOTO: Attorney Benjamin Crump, accompanied by the family of Ruth Whitfield, a victim of the May 4 mass shooting at a Tops supermarket, speaks with members of the media during a news conference in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, May 16, 2022. (Matt Rourke/AP)
PHOTO: Attorney Benjamin Crump, accompanied by the family of Ruth Whitfield, a victim of the May 4 mass shooting at a Tops supermarket, speaks with members of the media during a news conference in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, May 16, 2022. (Matt Rourke/AP)

ABC News' Stephanie Wash contributed to this report.

Relatives of Buffalo victim break down in tears: 'This shouldn't have happened' originally appeared on abcnews.go.com