BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Aaron Salter didn’t just wear the badge. He lived it. Every single day, he lived it, according to his wife.
“It wasn’t just for this place or that place. It was every day whether it was at home, whether it was within the community, whether it was on his job,” Kimberly Salter said.
Aaron, 55, a former Buffalo police officer, was working as a security guard at the Tops on Jefferson Ave. when Saturday’s shooting rampage began. Authorities say he shot at the suspect, hitting his body armor, but was killed when fire was returned.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joe Gramaglia said Salter was “a hero in our eyes”. President Joe Biden also called Salter a hero Tuesday during his visit to Buffalo.
This is no surprise to Kimberly Salter.
“My husband was a hero. But my husband had a calling. His calling was to protect and serve. He wore that badge proudly,” she said.
Salter joined other victims’ families at the Delavan-Grider Community Center Tuesday to meet privately with President Biden. There, surrounded by dozens, if not hundreds, of others intimately impacted by the shooting, she was approached by someone who had something to say to her.
“I just met a lady who said, ‘Your husband saved my life. Your husband saved the life of my daughter. Your husband fought hard to bring that person down,'” she said.
Biden touched on his own past, telling the families that the day will come when they think of their loved one and smile.
“It’s going to bring a smile to your lip before it brings a tear to your eye,” Biden said. “It takes a while for that to happen. It might take more than a season. But our prayer for you is that that time comes sooner or later. But I promise you it will come.”
Salter called the President “the most compassionate person I’ve ever met”.
“He and his wife showed so much empathy regarding not only the act that took place but the love for the family,” she said.
“It wasn’t rushed. It wasn’t forced. It was just true love from the heart,” Salter added.
Aaron and Kimberly Salter were married for 33 years. Kimberly says she’s “proud” and “blessed” to have been his wife.
“I am blessed to be able to share with others the love and the compassion that he shared with people,” she said, “total strangers that he didn’t know, every single day.”
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Salter worked at the Elmwood Ave. Tops location rather than the Jefferson Ave. Tops location.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter 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.