OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
Aaron Salter III, the son of the security guard who was killed in Buffalo’s most deadly mass shooting, had expressed his worries about gun violence three years ago on Facebook and voiced his fears that America was becoming too dangerous for its people — tragically not knowing at the time that his father would be a victim and fall to exactly what he described.
Aaron Salter Jr. died Saturday trying to stop 18-year-old Payton Gendron from killing innocent shoppers and workers in a Buffalo-area Tops supermarket.
The retired Buffalo police officer shot at Gendron, who was protected by body armor. Gendron killed Salter after an exchange of gunshots.
Ten people were killed in the attack, and three others were wounded. And the tragedy is impacted by knowing that the shooter had a violent footprint online, and had made threats of a mass shooting in the past.
Salter’s son had somewhat predicted what would happen, to cause such massive violence and mental illness.
According to media sources who looked at Facebook posts:
On August 9, 2019, Aaron Salter III responded on Facebook to an August 3, 2019, shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left 23 people dead.
“If i hear another story of someone mass shooing innocent people or like yesterday the 20 year old in Missouri who when to Walmart with and assault rifle and 100 rounds and recorded himself making comments to people shopping I’m gonna loose my mind,” he posted on Facebook. According to the Associated Press, the Missouri incident involved a man who went to a Walmart fully armed in what he called a test of his Second Amendment rights.
Salter wrote, “we can’t even do everyday s*** without having to watch our backs and that’s scary af!”
The security guard who attempted to stop a mass shooter in Buffalo is Aaron Salter
Aaron Salter attempted to stop the shooter by firing at the shooter, Payton Gendron. However, Gendron was wearing body armor and was not harmed by the shot. Gendron returned fire, killing Salter pic.twitter.com/LjdnXNhz5w
— The Circle (@TheCirc92826597) May 15, 2022
Then the gut-churning irony of the son’s projecting came:
“The sad thing is I feel like a crazy close to home is going to do something soon and I’m not ready for that. We as people of the so called USA need to do better this s*** is nuts,” he wrote.
According to CNN, Witness Grady Lewis said he was outside the store when the incident began but had a front-row seat for its conclusion.
“He came out. He put the gun to his head, to his chin. Then he dropped it and took off his bulletproof vest, then got on his hands and knees and put his hands behind his back,” Lewis said. “I thought they were going to shoot him, but they didn’t shoot him.”
“I still don’t even believe it happened … that a person would go into a supermarket full of people,” he said. “It was horrible. It was really horrible.”
Gendron left behind a manifesto about his crime, according to The New York Times.
In it, he said he had been “passively preparing” for the attack for years, as he amassed ammunition and tactical gear.
The defendant, who was allegedly wearing tactical gear and armed with an assault weapon, is accused of intentionally killing ten people at the grocery store on Jefferson Avenue. Three people were injured by gunfire.
MORE INFO: https://t.co/Tkb1QDZ5Dw
— Erie County District Attorney's Office (@DAErieCountyNY) May 15, 2022
In January, “actually got serious” for the attack, which took place more than 200 miles from Gendron’s home in Conklin, a small New York town near the Pennsylvania border.
The new York Times described his 2021 actions, in their reporting of Saturday’s murder spree:
Last spring, as the end of the academic year approached at Susquehanna Valley High School outside Binghamton, N.Y., students were asked for a school project about their plans after graduation.
Payton Gendron, a senior, said he wanted to commit a murder-suicide, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the matter.
He claimed to be joking, the official said. But the state police were summoned to investigate and took Mr. Gendron, then 17, into custody on June 8 under a state mental health law, police officials said Sunday.
He had a psychiatric evaluation in a hospital but was released within a couple of days, the officials said. Two weeks later, Mr. Gendron graduated and fell off investigators’ radar.
On Saturday, he resurfaced 200 miles away in Buffalo, where the authorities say he opened fire at a supermarket in a predominantly Black area, killing 10 people and wounding three others in one of the deadliest racist massacres in recent United States history.
After his rampage, Mr. Gendron put his gun to his neck. But two officers persuaded him to drop his weapon and surrender.
The Buffalo attack was the deadliest US mass shooting of the year. There have been at least 198 mass shootings so far in 2022, per the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as four or more people shot, not including the shooter.
The owner of a firearms shop in New York told The New York Times that the suspect recently bought the gun he used there. A background check on the suspect at the time showed nothing he said.
“I knew nothing about it until I got the call from them. I couldn’t believe it,” said Robert Donald, whose shop is in Endicott, about 200 miles from Buffalo.
Gendron has been charged with first-degree murder.