Retired Buffalo police officer Aaron Salter, Jr., died a hero on Saturday while attempting to stop a mass shooter who killed 10 people and injured three others in a Buffalo-area grocery store.
Salter, Jr., was working as a security guard when the gunman opened fire in the supermarket. The former cop shot at the attacker, but the gunman’s body armor protected him from multiple shots. The gunman then turned his own gun on Salter, Jr., killing him, WKBW reported.
Buffalo Police Department Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Salter was “beloved,” and “a hero in our eyes.”
Salter’s son, Aaron Salter III, said he was shocked by the ordeal, according to The Daily Beast.
“I’m pretty sure he saved some lives today,” he added. “He’s a hero.”
This isn’t the first time Salter had come face-to-face with a crazed gunman. In 1996, Salter said that a burglary suspect had pointed a shotgun in his face.
“My first reaction was to duck,” he said at the time. “I don’t enjoy looking down the barrel of a shotgun, and if it hadn’t been for my partner shooting first, it would have been a golden opportunity to shoot us. My partner probably saved us.”
Salter, a father of three, was spending his retirement pursuing his dream of getting cars to run on renewable energy.
“I have been a police officer for the last 27 years the last two I have been in the traffic division, I do the events at the First Niagara Center along with riding the motorcycle doing parades and races around the city of Buffalo,” his LinkedIn profile states. “I’m a jack of all trades a master of none I’m always working on my vehicles and or my project of running engines on water for the last four years or so, I would like to realize my dream of getting cars to run off of water using my newly discovered energy source some day.”
Adam Bennefield, Salter’s cousin, said the attack has traumatized his entire family.
“I don’t think anybody could ever anticipate something like this happening,” Bennefield, said. “I don’t think anybody can. Everybody’s hurt right now, everybody’s upset.”
Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans told WIVB that the fallen hero was a “great guy.”
“I had the pleasure of knowing him, great guy, well respected, well-liked. This is just horrific. It’s tragic. I don’t know what other words to describe it,” he said.
The alleged gunman was arrested at the scene of the shooting and is facing a first-degree murder charge.