Buffalo shooting survivor says her ‘daughter covered her face’ when gunman walked by

KEY POINTS

  • Fragrance Stanfield and her daughter were working at Tops grocery store on Saturday.
  • Stanfield was separated from her daughter when the suspect opened fire
  • She later learned that her daughter was crouched next to a cash register during the shooting.

A mother almost thought she had lost her daughter when an armed teenager opened fire in a New York City supermarket on Saturday, killing 10 people. “By the grace of God we got out,” she says.

Fragrance Harris Stanfield and her 20-year-old daughter had gone to work as usual at Buffalo’s Tops grocery store on Saturday. But Stanfield, a customer service leader at the supermarket, felt something was wrong that day.

The mother of seven experienced some pain in her neck and felt something was wrong, but “didn’t know what it was,” she told Audacy. “I turned around to tell my daughter how I felt and we heard gunshots. We weren’t sure they were here in our building so everyone stopped and turned around and looked for the front door.”

Stanfield saw the store security guard draw his gun and back away. The mother then grabbed her daughter, whose name was not released, and started running without waiting for the security guard to exchange gunfire with the suspect, who was later identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron.

“We ran, we ran for our lives,” he added. “My daughter panicked. She didn’t know she wasn’t with me. I grabbed her so she would come with me. She panicked.”

Stanfield was separated from her daughter as panic spread through the crowd at the store.

“I didn’t know where he was,” Stanfield told ABC News. “And I thought, if she’s gone, I have to get out of here. She has babies, she has a newborn, and she has a 3-year-old, so I still had to get out. If I came back for her and she was gone, so would I.” I would have left. And then they wouldn’t have anyone. So I still ran and ran around the back.”

Stanfield eventually discovered her daughter crouched next to a cash register as the suspect fired a volley of shots inside the store. The daughter also saw two people being shot.

As the suspect walked by, the daughter “covered her face” so “he wouldn’t hear her breathing,” Stanfield told the outlet.

The heavily armed suspect eventually surrendered to police. Erie County Sheriff John C. Garcia said the shooting was a “racially motivated hate crime by someone outside of our community.”

The white teen fatally shot 10 and wounded three in the predominantly black neighborhood. Eleven of the 13 victims were black and two were white, authorities said.

“The shooter traveled hours from outside this community to commit this crime against the people of Buffalo, on a day when people were enjoying the sun, enjoying family, enjoying friends,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. at a press conference. “People in a supermarket, shopping and bullets raining down on them. People’s lives are turned off in an instant for no reason.”

“I think it’s scary, but we can’t live in fear,” Stanfield said of the deadly incident. “We have to be able to get through this with love and compassion. This is our community.”

Police officers secure the scene after a shooting at TOPS supermarket in Buffalo Police officers secure the scene after a shooting at the TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, New York, U.S., May 14, 2022. Photo: Reuters/STRINGER

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