BUFFALO, NY – Civil rights attorney Ben Crump vowed Thursday to sue “everybody” that was an accomplice to the Buffalo supermarket shooting, including the gunman’s parents, as relatives of those killed sobbed for their loved ones and begged for action.
“We absolutely intend on going after the gun manufacturers, the gun distributors and anybody else who was an accomplice to this young 18-year-old white supremacist,” Crump said during an afternoon press conference outside of the Antioch Baptist Church in Buffalo.
“We intend on going after everybody that was an accomplice to this young monster killing these innocent people.”
Crump and Rev. Al Sharpton gathered in front of the church with the relatives of four people who were shot to death by Payton Gendron, 18, at the Tops Friendly Market Saturday in a hate-fueled massacre that targeted black people.
“My mom [became] a victim of this because somebody woke up and decided they didn’t like black people and shot a hollow point bullet [through her right temple] with her fiance watching, hiding in the cooler as best as he could,” Mark Talley, 32, said of his mother Geraldine Talley, 62, who was killed in the shooting.
“My mother’s fiance had to watch her die.”
Mark, who clutched a photo of his mother as he spoke, said the last time he spoke to her was on Mother’s Day.
“I never would have thought that’d be the last time I would speak to her,” Mark said.
“I never thought this would happen in Buffalo.”
Veronica White recounted how her nephew Andre Mackniel, 53, was at the market to buy a surprise birthday cake for his three-year-old son when he was shot in the back of the head.
“We found out he was dead on Facebook,” White, flanked by other family members, told reporters as she broke down into tears.
She said Mackniel’s son doesn’t yet know that his father is dead and “keeps thinking his father is asleep.”
“He’s gone, he won’t even know his father,” White cried.
“This is so senseless. I can’t believe someone would give some child a gun and let him think that it’s ok… to shoot people down like dogs. That doesn’t make any sense to me, it shouldn’t have happened.”
Tirzah Patterson, who was married to slain deacon Heyward Patterson for 15 years, questioned how she was going to raise their 12-year-old son Jake without his father by his side.
“Every day I have to pray and do a check in with him to make sure he’s not mentally all over the place. His heart is broken. He half sleeps, he half eats and as a mother, what am I supposed to do to help him get through this? I need a village to help me raise and be here for my son because he has no father,” Tirzah said through tears.
“They took his father, he will grow up fatherless. He has to live even after this and I have to pray that God gives me strength to raise him the best of my ability.”
Robin Whitfield, the eldest daughter of Ruth Whitfield, 86, said her mother was her best friend and the two had plans to see The Temptations at a concert the night she was slaughtered.
“And I have the tickets still on my table,” Robin said as she trembled.
“How dare you?” she bellowed, referencing her mother’s killer.
“What am I to do? What am I supposed to do now? I keep seeing her face coming up everywhere I look but I can’t kiss, I can’t hug her.”
Sharpton said that he’s been in touch with the White House to form a hate crimes summit and called on President Biden to do more than just show up.
“I’m glad the President came but now we got to do more than come. We got to stop this… It’s time for the President and others to convene on how we stop this,” said Sharpton.
“These families… will never recover from what happened. There will always be an empty seat at their table, their holidays will be hollow and the whole country must stand and let them know that enough is enough and that we stand with them.”