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Daughter of Buffalo victim breaks down at press conference; attorney announces potential lawsuits

·National Reporter and Producer
·3 min read
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Families of four victims of the shooting at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, N.Y., shared their grief at a press conference held Thursday by longtime civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton and national civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who said they plan to sue everyone they believe is responsible for the attack.

Robin Harris, the eldest daughter of 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, could not hold back her anger when addressing the audience and the 18-year-old suspect accused of killing her mother and nine others in the racist rampage.

Two women hug at a press conference after the Buffalo, N.Y., mass shooting.
A family member is comforted during a news conference in the wake of a weekend shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., on Thursday. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

“How dare you!” she yelled into the mic, addressing Payton Gendron, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. “That racist young man took my mother away.”

Speaking before her was Tirzah Patterson, the ex-wife of deacon Heyward Patterson, who appeared with their 12-year-old son.

Jacob Patterson, son of shooting victim Heyward Patterson, covers his face with his hands as he stands next to his mother.
Jacob Patterson, son of shooting victim Heyward Patterson, and his mother, Tirzah Patterson, at the news conference. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

“He was a good father, he took care of him. He didn’t lack anything,” she said as her son covered his face.

“His heart is broken ... what am I supposed to do to help him get through this? I need a village to help me raise and be here for my son because he has no father.”

On Saturday afternoon, the alleged gunman, dressed in body armor and livestreaming on Twitch, killed 10 Black shoppers and employees at the supermarket. Another three people were wounded, including another Black person and two white people.

A Buffalo police officer stands in the Tops market parking lot.
A Buffalo police officer on Wednesday at the scene of the shooting. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The shooting happened in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Authorities are investigating the attack as a hate crime after the white shooter allegedly left behind a manifesto and showed the N-word painted on the gun in the livestream.

The video, at one point, shows the gunman point his rifle at a white person, say “sorry” and decide not to shoot him as he moves on.

Marcus Talley, surrounded by others at the news conference, shows a photo of his mother, Geraldine Talley, who was killed in the Buffalo supermarket shooting.
Marcus Talley holds up a photo of his mother, Geraldine Talley, at the news conference. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Crump said he plans to go after gun manufacturers, distributors and “anyone else who was an accomplice to this 18-year-old white supremacist.”

He said: “They might have not pulled the trigger but all these people who curated the hate, they loaded the gun.”

Crump added that pursuing legal action could involve suing Gendron’s parents, and said they’ll be collaborating with the Brady Center, a nonprofit that advocates for gun control.

Sharpton said the “era of hate” needs to stop.

The Reverend Al Sharpton, flanked by relatives of some of the Buffalo shooting victims, speaks into a microphone.
The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks at the news conference. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

“They didn’t shoot them for who they were but for what they were,” he said. “The gun was shot at all of us.”

Sharpton added that there would be a vigil for the victims at 7 p.m. in Buffalo.

According to the Associated Press, the NAACP is also getting involved by suggesting a policy approach in a proposal that could be picked up by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. It would focus on preventing future acts of anti-Black domestic terrorism.

A woman visits a sidewalk memorial of flowers, balloons and candles for the Buffalo shooting victims.
A woman visits a sidewalk memorial for the Buffalo shooting victims on Tuesday. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Crump was adamant in saying the Buffalo attack should be viewed as a form of domestic terrorism.

As for Harris, she celebrated her mom on Mother’s Day and said it’ll be one of the last memories she has of her.

“I took my last picture of my mom on Mother’s Day, she was so beautiful. That picture can’t replace her.”