Arizona church elder from Buffalo recalls reading mass shooting victims names, knowing several of them

Ten men and women were gunned down while innocently shopping and working at the supermarket in Buffalo, New York. The victims range in age from 32 to 86.

Three of the victims have a connection to a church elder who now lives in Arizona, Elder Jerome Ferrell.

Ferrell now calls Arizona home, but he is from Buffalo, specifically the neighborhood that was attacked. He worked as a pastor and elder at a church right near where those lives were taken.

Ferrell was hoping what he was watching unfold on television wasn’t true.

"It was our home base. Being born and raised in that community. It was just sad. Very sad," Ferrell said.

Before moving out to Arizona, he was a pastor and elder at a church on Jefferson Avenue, just blocks away from where the mass shooting happened. As the event unfolded, he recognized three of the ten names on the list of victims.

Heyward Patterson, Pearl Young, and the retired officer who was working as security at the Tops grocery store and died trying to stop the shooter, Aaron Salter.

"We began to realize the victims by name," Ferrell said. "It was unbelievable."

With the hate and this targeted attack on the Black community, particularly in his home state, he can’t help but feel a loss of hope.

"Sometimes it feels like it is going backward," Ferrell remarked.

Events like this, he says, bring attention to these issues to the foreground.

"The nation is hearing and seeing what happened in Buffalo," Ferrell said.

MORE: Buffalo supermarket shooting: What’s known about the victims

Even though Ferrell didn't know them all, he says one loss is too many in this kind of tragedy.

What happened in the Buffalo shooting?

The mass shooting happened on the afternoon of May 14 at Tops Friendly Market, a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. The gunman wore military gear and live-streamed to Twitch with a helmet camera as he opened fire, authorities said. Ten people were killed and three others were wounded.

Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating the shooting as both a hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism. Authorities said 11 victims are Black and two are White.

The suspect has been identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York. He’s been arraigned on a murder charge.