A stunned supermarket manager has told how ‘white supremacist’ gunman Payton Gendron lowered his weapon and apologized instead of opening fire – when the suspect realized he was white.
Dad-of-two Christopher Braden, 55, raced to the front of the Tops Friendly grocery store when evil Gendron started spraying bullets at black shoppers in Buffalo Saturday afternoon, killing ten.
Braden was hit in the leg and tried to crawl between two registers to hide, but the 18-year-old shooter marched towards him and took aim with his semi-automatic rifle.
Now his close friend and neighbor has talked to us about the horrifying moment when Braden stared death in the face. He is still in the hospital recovering from his wounds.
Footage recorded on Gendron’s livestreaming camera captures Braden’s horrifying scream of ‘no’ as he covers his face and prepares to die – only for the gunman to casually say ‘sorry’ and back away.
DailyMail.com has decided not to show that footage or stills from it.
Tops Friendly supermarket manager Christopher Braden, 55 (left) was shot in the leg but spared from death by alleged white supremacist gunman Payton Gendron (right) who opened fire at the store in Buffalo, New York Saturday
The gunman opened fire around 2.30pm on Saturday while livestreaming the shooting. Several witnesses saw him carry out the 10 killings
Buffalo shooter Payton Gendron is pictured at his arraignment hearing Saturday night, where he appeared barefoot and in a paper outfit
‘The guy could have literally shot him dead – but he didn’t,’ Braden’s friend Sue Trala told DailyMail.com.
‘Christopher is trying to put on a brave face and make light of it but he’s probably going to have survivor’s guilt for the rest of his life – just because he’s white.’
Braden is currently in the hospital with a shattered tibia and it’s expected he will get a visit from Joe Biden Tuesday when the president travels to Buffalo to meet families of victims and survivors.
‘He’s coherent but he’s had major surgery on his left leg and he’s going to have at least two more surgeries,’ Sue explained.
‘The bullet went in and came out, leaving a pretty big hole. They think it was a hollow point.
‘From what he’s said, he heard the shots and ran up to the front of the store. He saw the guard getting shot right in front of him but he didn’t even realize he had been hit in the leg.
‘It was only when he was laying on the ground between the registers that he realized he had been shot. He looks up and sees the shooter pointing his gun at him but then he just says sorry.
‘It’s because he was white – there is literally no other explanation. The kid knew what he was doing, he was well trained, but he took the decision not to shoot. I blame all those stupid war games they play.’
Braden lives in a suburb of Buffalo, 20 minutes from the scene of the massacre. An assistant manager for the New York grocery chain, he transferred from another location to the Jefferson Avenue store just a couple weeks ago, Trala said.
‘He has two boys, he’s a great neighbor. We have a glass of wine, we snow blow each other’s homes in the winter. It could not have happened to a nicer guy,’ she added.
Gendron has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder following Saturday’s attack. He is being held without bail and faces life in prison.
Braden is currently in the hospital with a shattered tibia and is expected to get a visit from Joe Biden Tuesday when the president travels to meet survivors
Due back in court Thursday, the teen is currently on suicide watch and is being held in a separate unit from other inmates, the sheriff of Erie County, John Garcia, said at a news conference Sunday.
Police said Gendron, wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera, shot a total of 11 black people and two white people in Saturday’s rampage before surrendering to authorities.
Authorities on Sunday said they are also investigating a 180-page manifesto that Gendron reportedly posted before going on his rampage, which included a plan to drive several counties away to carry out the shooting.
Gendron identified himself as a white supremacist in the document, explaining his fears that white people are being replaced by other races.
A preliminary investigation found Gendron repeatedly visited websites espousing white supremacist ideologies and race-based conspiracy theories – and extensively researched the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the man who killed dozens at a summer camp in Norway in 2011, an official said.
Gendron was arrested Saturday after allegedly killing 10 people at a Tops Friendly Market supermarket in Buffalo, Upstate New York
Police say the massacre was motivated by the 18 year-old’s hatred for black people
Payton Gendron traveled from his home in Conklin, New York, to carry out the atrocity. He lived there with his father Paul, mom Pamela, both of whom are engineers for the New York Department of Transportation, and his siblings
Gendron had traveled about 200 miles to Buffalo from his home in Conklin, New York, near the Pennsylvania border. Investigators believe Gendron had specifically researched the demographics of the population around the supermarket and had been searching for communities with a high number of black residents.
Screenshots purporting to be from the Twitch broadcast appear to show a racial epithet scrawled on the rifle used in the attack, as well as the number 14, a likely reference to a white supremacist slogan.
Officials said the rifle Gendron used in the attack was purchased legally but the magazines he used for ammunition were not allowed to be sold in New York.
Police were first alerted to the scene of the supermarket at 2.31pm, when a dispatcher first directed a couple of officers to respond to a ‘shots fired’ call, according to audio recordings obtained by DailyMail.com.
Just about one minute later, the first cops and firefighters on the scene reported seeing bodies strewn outside the supermarket, and soon one officer on the scene makes a plea to the dispatcher, saying: ‘Radio, send as many cars as you possibly can’ as sirens could be heard going off in the distance.
Soon, a dispatcher informs the officers about a ‘possible active shooter’ at Tops, saying there are ‘still shots being fired.’
Less than 30 seconds later, firefighters on the scene radioed in that there were ‘at least three people on the ground,’ and the suspect ‘might be wearing body armor.’
Mourners comfort each other as they gather at a vigil outside the Tops Friendly supermarket in Buffalo on Sunday after 10 were killed
Sharon Doyle holds a Black Lives Matter sign as she gathers with others outside the scene of a shooting at a supermarket
Moments later, police reported that they had the suspect ‘cornered’ and ‘have him in custody.’ That call came just about six minutes after police were first dispatched to the scene.
Buffalo officials now say Gendron would have continued his rampage had he not been stopped by cops, and planned to drive to a second store to target black people.
‘His plans were to drive out of here and continue driving down Jefferson Avenue looking to shoot more black people and possibly go to another store location,’ Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia told ABC News.
The teen, who claims to identify as a white supremacist, issued several ‘clear and hate-filled’ statements about his motive and state of mind following his arrest, and admitted that he was targeting the black community when he carried out the massacre, an official confirmed to CNN.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn revealed Sunday night that officials are also considering charging Gendron with domestic terrorism.