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Tops employee led people to safety amid gunman’s wrath

Tops employee led people to safety amid gunmans wrath


A courageous employee at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo guided frightened shoppers and co-workers into a break room as a deranged gunman allegedly opened fire, killing 10 and wounding three others.

Jerome Bridges, a scan coordinator at the supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood, recalled his heroic actions to CNN, saying he barricaded the terrified group in the break room using a heavy desk as countless gunshots rang out.

“That’s all you heard was firing, constant firing — firing and firing and firing,” Bridges told the network. “People were scattering around the place, they was screaming, crying, yelling, talking about ‘There’s a shooter in the store.’”

Amid the confusion and chaos, Bridges said, he told those huddled with him inside the break room to keep quiet as the gunshots started riddling food displays nearby.

“I just wanted to make sure I kept the customers and my other three co-workers very safe,” Bridges said. “So, even if I would have died, it would have been, you know, me dying protecting them.”

Jerome Bridges (left) barricaded a group in the break room using a heavy desk as countless gunshots rang out.
Libby March for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Scene of the shooting.
Eleven of the 13 victims who were shot during the hate-filled assault were black.
Matt Rourke/AP
Cop outside of Tops.
Some customers hid in the market’s milk cooler section as the gunman rampaged through the store.
Brendan McDermid/REUTERS
People participate in a vigil to honor the 10 people killed in Saturday's shooting at Tops.
People participate in a vigil to honor the 10 people killed in Saturday’s shooting at Tops.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the scene.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited the scene of the tragic mass shooting.
Andrew Harnik/AP

The alleged gunman, Payton Gendron, 18, who authorities say livestreamed the attack using a helmet cam, is set to appear in court Thursday as the FBI mulls the possibility of adding hate crime and terrorism charges. Eleven of the 13 victims who were shot during the hate-filled assault were black.

Gendron’s court-appointed attorney entered a not guilty plea to one count of murder on his behalf during an initial court appearance last week.

More coverage on the Buffalo supermarket shooting

Gendron, who allegedly traveled 200 miles from his home in Conklin, New York, shared plans for the deadly racist attack in a private chat on the Discord app some 30 minutes before slaughtering 10 black people at the market, CNN reported Wednesday.

Other shoppers at the supermarket also took their fate into their own hands during the ruthless attack, including a black family of three, they told CNN.

Payton Gendron.
Payton Gendron is set to appear in court Thursday as the FBI mulls the possibility of adding hate crime and terrorism charges.
Erie County District Attorney’s Office via AP

Lamont Thomas said he was looking for cake mix with his 8-year-old daughter, Londin, to celebrate the birthday of his partner, Julie Harwell, when they started hearing shots ring out — but Harwell was on the other side of the market.

Thomas and his daughter followed an employee to the market’s milk cooler section, where they hid while waiting out the spate of gunfire.

“And then as the gunman was still shooting, he attempted to actually shoot through the coolers, but the bullets never penetrated,” Thomas told CNN. “We could see the milk he shot through … leaking out.”

Thomas said he put his hand over his daughter’s mouth to not give up their location to the shooter, while Harwell was at a loss on her next move until the gunman was just steps away from her.

“That’s when it got real to me because I didn’t know what was going on still until I saw him,” she said. “It was surreal.”

With Post wires



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