Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church Pastor George Nicholas criticized the mass shooting inflicted by 18-year-old White supremacist Payton Gendron on Tops Friendly Markets' customers last Saturday.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Pastor Nicholas shared the personal pain and anger experienced by his congregants after Gendron killed 10 people at Tops, which is located in Buffalo, Texas. Many of his church members personally knew one of the victims or were actually there during the mass shooting. Lincoln Memorial is minutes away from Tops.
A Buffalo Pastor Attuned To His Flock
Nicholas disclosed that he had to shorten his Sunday preaching to allow people to express their sentiments on the incident. The pastor said his congregants were not only hurting but also filled with anger with what happened. He admitted sharing that anger, too.
"They're angry we live in a society in which this happens over and over again. We're not safe in our own community," Nicholas said.
"I'm angry at a society that produces people like that," he added.
Nicholas recounted one church member lost an uncle who was shot dead in the store's parking lot. While another lost a good friend and yet another revealed being close to the teacher who was shot. Then there are Nicholas' two parishioners who worked with Aaron Salter, the store's security guard, when they were still part of the police force. The two parishioners are retired from the police just like Salter. Nicholas himself says he knew Salter's family.
A Buffalo Pastor's Call For Cultural Change
According to Nicholas, Gendron's actions are the result of propaganda that has been constantly a drumbeat for the last five or six years. Nicholas disclosed that the church's food pantry and those of other churches with a similar program were also affected by the incident. Tops Market, which is Buffalo's largest food retailer, have to be close for a couple of days in line with investigations.
Gendron attacked on Saturday afternoon wearing tactical gear and a camera built on his helmet, which he used to live stream what he was doing on the Amazon-owned Twitch. The 18-year-old's 13 victims were mostly Black, with only two being White, who he specifically targeted out of racial hatred.
Gendron instantly killed three victims and injured one in the store's parking lot with the assault-type rifle he carried. His next victim was Salter who tried to pull his gun to stop the youth as he was entering the store. After the retired police failed and died, he then went into the store and killed six more, which included an unnamed deacon. The police arrived when he was about to leave, prompting him to try to shoot himself. However, the police coaxed him to let his gun and some gear down before he surrendered.
WGRZ reported that Gendron's parents are cooperating with investigators, who are still figuring out why the 18-year-old had to travel 200 miles from Conklin, New York to Buffalo just to execute his plan. Gendron has been charged with first-degree murder. Initial investigation has revealed so far that the suspect was at the store the day before to prepare for his attack.
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