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Witness recalls shooter’s ‘blank’ expression during ‘horrifying’ Buffalo mass shooting

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A witness of Saturday’s mass shooting in Buffalo told The Post about the “horrifying” moments she saw the hate-fueled gunman begin firing in the parking lot of a supermarket across the street from her home — and shielded herself from view of the killer out of fear of being targeted.

Katherine Crofton, a retired firefighter, recalled seeing 18-year-old Payton Gendron’s afternoon massacre of ten from a “perfect, bird’s-eye view” from the porch of her two-story colonial home.

“I was up there with the dog and I heard the first shot. I turned around and saw him shoot the guy and the lady,” Crofton, 55, told The Post early Sunday.

After seeing the four people shot in the parking lot of the Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue store located a stone’s throw away from her house, Crofton said she “ducked down” because she “didn’t want him to turn around and see me and take a shot at me.”

When she looked back, Gendron — an 18-year-old who posted a white supremacist manifesto online and according to sources wrote the N-word on the barrel of one of his guns — “was walking into the store crouched and ready.”

18-year-old Payton Gendron allegedly entered the supermarket with a rifle and opened fire.
Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP

Crofton said she then “immediately heard a shot,” and realized “hero” supermarket security guard Aaron Salter Jr. had been fatally shot due to the continued sound of gunfire.

“I knew Aaron was dead because he kept going,” said the former firefighter and medic.

Salter Jr., — a former cop who died while exchanging gunfire with the supermarket shooter — was “a real gruff guy” and “a big, strong man,” according to Crofton.

More coverage on the Buffalo supermarket shooting

“He was a good security guard,” she said. “He didn’t take no sh-t.”

After killing the supermarket’s armed security guard, Gendron continued his alleged hate-filled, live-streamed rampage.

“You hear him walk into the store shooting people, just, ‘pop, pop, pop,” Crofton recalled. “He was in full combat gear – helmet, body armor, everything. He was loaded.”

Katherine Crofton.
“I heard the first shot. I turned around and saw him shoot the guy and the lady,” Katherine Crofton recalled.
James Keivom
Erie County DA’s office released a picture of Tops Markets mass shooting suspect Payton Gendron, 18, from Conklin, New York.
Erie County DA’s office released a picture of Tops Markets mass shooting suspect Payton Gendron, 18, from Conklin, New York.

The shooting sent those in the store running for their lives outside of the nearest exit, or hiding in coolers inside of it.

After emerging from the supermarket, a large crew of cops arrived at the scene and began shouting at Grendon, prompting the gunman to point the weapon to himself, said the eye-witness.

“He’s just standing there at first, and he had a handgun on his hip, he takes it and puts it here,” she said, putting two fingers underneath her jaw. “After a few seconds, he puts it away.”

Katherine Crofton.
Katherine Crofton says Payton Gendron’s face “was just blank. There was no expression on his face.”
James Keivom

Gendron — who was reportedly armed with a semiautomatic rifle, a hunting rifle and a shotgun — was persuaded into surrendering by law-enforcement personnel who arrived at the scene, officials said. 

“They’re screaming at him, screaming at him and he calmly takes off his gear and body armor because he had so much s–t on him,” Crofton said, referring to the military gear he wore during the massacre.

The hate-filled teenager was stone-faced after the mass shooting, Crofton told The Post.

“His face was just blank. There was no expression on his face,” she said. “It was just blank.”

Crofton — who was enjoying the sunny Saturday with her 18-month-old Irish Pitbull named Guinness before the massacre — said she saw the shocking event begin and end “within a few minutes,” and that she had a “perfect birds eye view of the whole thing.”

“It’s horrifying,” she said. “You hear about this sh-t happening all over the country … but not Buffalo.”

President Biden called Saturday’s attack “an act of domestic terrorism,” while the Department of Justice investigated the apparently racially motivated mass shooting as a hate crime.

“It’s horrifying, and to find out it’s racially motivated is disgusting,” Crofton said. “I don’t understand how people think like that. What the f–k is wrong with people? I just don’t understand that. It’s so sad. Ten people aren’t going home to their families tonight.”

Gendron’s alleged “racially motivated” shooting killed ten and injured three others. Eleven of the victims were black, and two were white.

He drove from “hours away” from where he lived in Conklin, New York, to the supermarket located in a predominantly black neighborhood, authorities said.

Gendron on Saturday night pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

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