BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – On Wednesday, the courtroom where Tops mass shooter Payton Gendron was being sentenced heard from the wife of Aaron Salter, Jr., whose family had a special tribute for him as they donned the colors red and black.
Salter was working security at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue and as a retired Buffalo Police officer, Salter showed profound heroism and bravery in trying to stop the shooter by exchanging gunfire with him, saving lives.
“Red for the blood that he shed, for his family and for his community,” said Salter’s wife, Kimberly, who also read passages from the Bible. “And black because we are still grieving.”
The court also heard from the mother of Roberta Drury, who was killed in the mass shooting. At the time, she had been caring for her brother.
Drury is remembered as a loving and caring person, moving to Buffalo several years ago from Syracuse to help her brother as he battled leukemia. Roberta’s mother Leslie spoke about her daughter and brought a picture of Roberta when she was a child.
“She was a beautiful girl,” said Leslie VanGiesen, Roberta’s mother.
Her mother described how her family has been changed forever.
“When people ask ‘how many children do you have?’ I don’t know what to say, will I ever be able to enjoy August 11, her birthday,” VanGiesen said, “I’ve never been able to see her or touch her after that day I have been profoundly changed, my life view has saddened everything.”
Friends and family of Aaron Salter created a scholarship in his name to help graduating high school seniors. The scholarship will sponsor a 5-K and half marathon on May 13 to honor the victims of the mass shooting. Earl Perrin, a friend of Aaron Salter says their organization thanks God and the community for supporting the scholarship.
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Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.