BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Andre Mackniel was picking up a birthday cake for his 3-year-old son at Tops when he was shot and killed, one of 10 to die in that mass shooting. Under unimaginable circumstances, that boy’s family moved forward with a birthday party Monday night.

Through their grief, they gathered to celebrate the birthday of Andre Mackniel Jr. It happened at the Cereal Spot on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo.

“It was just nice to see a smile from him and from his mother,” said John Elmore, an attorney representing the family. Elmore described the party as belated, but exciting.

Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins met Andre Jr. at the scene of the shooting last week. Dawkins surprised the family by showing up for the birthday party.

“Andre, I’m going to treat him like family now, whether it’s a big brother or whatever I can be for that little kid,” Dawkins said. “I’m going to do that because I don’t know what it’s like to not have a father. I’m blessed to still have mine.

“I want him to know that people are thinking about him and people love him.”

Dawkins said he is working to get Mackniel tickets to the Bills home opener against Tennessee.

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.