The oldest victim of the Buffalo supermarket massacre will be buried on Saturday.
Family and friends of Ruth E. Whitfield, 86, are holding visitation and funeral services at a Buffalo church two weeks after police said a white supremacist killed Whitfield and nine others. Authorities say the shooter targeted the Tops Friendly Markets store because she was in a predominantly black neighborhood.
Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, met with relatives of Whitfield before the services, according to the White House. They will also meet with more families of the victims of the mass shooting along with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Whitfield had just left to visit her husband in a nursing home, a daily routine for eight years, when she stopped in Tops for groceries, her son Garnell Whitfield told CNN’s Omar Jimenez.
Garnell Whitfield said she had been trying to call her mother after learning of the shooting but was unable to reach her. He stopped by her house and then went to Tops, where he found her car in the parking lot. Whitfield would later learn that his mother was among the victims.
“Devastation, anger, hurt, disbelief, hurt,” Whitfield said, describing her feelings that day. “She was the glue that held our family together.”
Whitfield said his family will not hesitate to reveal the suspect’s purported motive.
“It’s white supremacy. It’s hate. It’s racism. It’s bigotry,” Whitfield said. “And we have to call it what it is and stop beating around the bush and confront it because it’s proliferating. It’s not getting better.”
Whitfield is survived by her husband of 68 years, Garnell W. Whitfield Sr., her children, and numerous grandchildren. Her services come after funerals for other victims were held last week.
Among them were Celestine Chaney, Roberta Drury, Andre Mackniel, Katherine Massey, Margus Morrison, and Heyward Patterson.
Chaney was buried Tuesday and several family members spoke at her funeral. According to CNN affiliate WGRZ, Chaney, 65, had survived three aneurysms and breast cancer, inspiring people to wear pink in her honor.
“He was a very peaceful and sweet person and I feel like people should learn to be that way,” Chaney’s granddaughter, Kayla Jones, said at the funeral.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited the area in the first days after the shooting took place, calling it an act of domestic terrorism and condemning the alleged shooter’s racist ideology.