BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The family of Ruth Whitfield has hired nationally renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump and local attorney Terry Connors after the 86-year-old woman was one of 10 to be gunned down at Tops on Jefferson Avenue Saturday afternoon.

Whitfield, the mother of former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield, was shopping after visiting her husband in the nursing home, her family has said.

“Our family has been ripped apart,” Garnell said. “It’s been devastating. It’s like somebody tore our heart out.”

Ruth Whitfield (Courtesy: Ben Crump Law)

The attorneys are being hired to investigate the shooting, what led up to it, and potentially take corresponding legal action.

“We want to channel that anger into some things that will help change the laws, change society, change the mindset in this community and this country,” Garnell said.

The family and their attorneys gathered at the Durham Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church Monday.

“He took away my mother and my best friend,” Whitfield’s daughter Robin Harris said of the suspect in the mass shooting. “How dare you! How dare you! This needs to be fixed.”

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter and anchor who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.