BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The mother of a Tops shooting victim was invited to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address and wholeheartedly embraced the speech and experience.

Zeneta Everhart says her attendance at the State of the Union is a recognition of Buffalo’s East Side. Now, she says she wants to see federal lawmakers pass a ban on assault weapons.

Everhart has been a strong supporter of gun reform following the Tops mass shooting — she’s testified before federal lawmakers and has met with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris several times here in Buffalo and also in D.C. Her son Zaire, was seriously wounded in the mass shooting and has been on a long road to recovery.

“He’s carrying around shrapnel in his body for the rest of his life, so me being the person chosen to be there by Senator (Charles) Schumer, yes, it is an honor I was ecstatic to go,” Everhart said.

Schumer invited Everhart to the State of the Union address. Everhart says that she is also supportive of another comment the president made during his speech — that teachers need a raise.

On gun reform, Everhart says that there are demonstrations that are being planned right now for the spring and summer months in D.C.

Everhart says she was in full support of Biden’s comments on mental health awareness and once again calling for a ban on assault weapons.

“I stood, I screamed, I clapped, I hollered when he said that our president, did everyone hear that? Our president said that in those chambers that he’s going to be working on an assault weapons ban, how amazing is that for people like Zaire and the 10 families that lost a loved one on 5/14,” Everhart said.

Everhart applauds the passage of the Safer Communities Act last year — in part the law enhances background checks for gun buyers 18 to 21 years old, but she wants to see more done.

Everhart says it was an honor to attend the address.

“I don’t know, I think it’s recognition for the East Side of Buffalo, me being there in attendance right, extremely out spoken in the media over the last nine months talking about what happened on 5/14 because my community was traumatized, we have to keep talking about it, we have to keep the pulse on what happened in Buffalo because I can’t forget about it, I can’t forget about it those ten families, can’t forget about it we have to keep talking about it,” Everhart said.

After the mass shooting, Everhart and her son started a book club that focuses on African American culture and history.

Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.