BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A prominent community leader believes a last-minute change in her weekend routine might have saved her from harm Saturday afternoon.

Author and journalist Eva Doyle shared her story of “what could have been.”

“It was a shock because I am a regular Saturday shopper at that Tops supermarket,” Doyle said.

On any other Saturday afternoon, Eva Doyle would have been buying her groceries at the Tops Market on Jefferson — the Tops that is near and dear to her heart — where the journalist, retired school teacher, and author not only shops, but chose to autograph her latest book, “Eye on History, the Golden Collection,” last February.

Doyle also figures she would have been leaving the store at just about the same time a gunman unleashed death and destruction at Tops’ front door.

“That would have been the exact time that I would have been walking out that door with a basket full of groceries,” she said.

But Eva Doyle is larger than life in this neighborhood — she is a living legend. Known to most as “Mother Doyle,” she is a civic and civil rights leader — her image posted on the Freedom Wall with national and international civil rights legends.

The auditorium at the Merriweather Library, where the community has grieved the Tops attack, bears her name. She posts anti-violence billboards.

But at the last minute Saturday, the Buffalo grandmother went to the cleaners first, instead of Tops.

“Tops was more than just a place to go shopping — it was a meeting place,” she said. “You could be standing in the aisle and somebody would holler across, ‘How are you doing, how is the family?'”

And the hero of Saturday’s tragedy, retired Buffalo police officer Aaron Salter, who was killed trying to stop the deadly attack, was like family to Tops’ customers.

“He was more than a security guard, anybody will tell you that,” Doyle added. “He was a greeter, he had a winning smile and he was soft-spoken.”

Fellow journalist and writer Katherine Massey also died in the attack. Doyle remembers “Kat,” as she was called, as a fighter for the community, including a meeting years ago.

“[We met] to protest the illegal drugs coming into the Black community, coming from places like Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and all of the politicians were there,” Doyle recalled.

Dr. Doyle said she can’t understand how an 18-year-old can be filled with so much hate. Doyle is hanging a lamp at her front door for the next 10 days, to honor the memory of the 10 innocent souls who lost their lives to this senseless violence.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.