Buffalo shooting survivors share their stories a year later: ‘It’s still surreal’

·2 min read

Survivors of the racially motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket continue to feel the effects of the tragedy a year later.

Rose Wysocki, who was a produce manager at the Tops Friendly Market where the shooting occurred, experienced symptoms including anxiety attacks and nightmares after returning to work there, she told the Buffalo News in an article published Sunday.

During therapy, she learned she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and was told she would “never be able to heal” if she kept working at the store. She still goes to that supermarket to visit friends and pick up prescriptions but has since started working at a different Tops location.

“I can’t stand when people say to you: ‘Just move on.’ You don’t understand until you go through it,” Wysocki told the Buffalo News. “It’s not that easy to just move on. I wish I could.”

Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting, which killed 10 people, all of them Black. In February, gunman Payton Gendron was sentenced to life in prison, months after pleading guilty to state charges including murder and hate-motivated domestic terrorism.

Julie Harwell, a customer inside Tops when the shooting occurred, is also dealing with PTSD and now feels triggered working in cramped spaces at her job as a chef, she told the newspaper.

“Knowing that we were basically hunted down like rabid dogs was like insane to me,” said Harwell, whose daughter Londin and the child’s father, Lamont Thomas, also survived. “It was ... it’s still surreal. How can somebody have that much hatred in their whole being? Like, how did you get that instilled in you? How? I don’t know.”

Buffalo recognized the anniversary Sunday with a remembrance outside the Tops supermarket, which Gov. Hochul and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attended.