Phylicia Dove becomes emotional as she talks about the mass shooting that took place at a supermarket in Buffalo.

'We didn't have much, and you took what was left'

Updated 5:58 PM ET, Tue May 17, 2022

BUFFALO, New York -- Phylicia Dove fails to fight back tears as she talks about the massacre that shattered her community's haven in Buffalo's Masten Park neighborhood.
"Tops market was a place of community, a safe space for us to meet, to talk, to be together," she told CNN. "There's no one here who hasn't visited this Tops. It was ours. Even if it wasn't the best, it was ours, and now our safe space has been infiltrated and taken from us and that is something we are mourning."
The beloved Tops is the only supermarket in a four-mile radius within this largely Black neighborhood and one that took more than a decade to get. It has now been scarred by a deadly rampage whose remnants are evident in the stretches of police tape that now guard the store.
But the real guardians of this grocery store are the hundreds of residents who have swarmed Jefferson Avenue, mourning, praying and beginning their heartbreaking journey toward healing.
The tragedy began when a typical Saturday of grocery shopping turned into a violent nightmare as 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron arrived at Tops and gunned down people inside and outside of the store, police say. Eleven of the thirteen victims, ages 20 to 86, were Black.
Gendron has described himself as a White supremacist in a hateful rant online. And residents want the world to know that what happened in their community was an act of terror.
"This has to be labeled a racist hate crime and we want it known that he is a White supremacist," Dove said. "We also want this spoken about as terrorism, and to make it sound any softer than that is a slap in the face for the families grieving today."
The slaughter has left this tight-knit community angry and heartbroken, but East Side residents like Tony Marshall have not let their grief keep them away from each other.
Tony Marshall spends a majority of his days at Tops, picking up and dropping off employees and shoppers.
Marshall spent hours under the sun, grilling hot dogs on the corner where Tops loomed behind him, only a few feet away from where he discovered the bodies of three of his friends the day before.
"It was chaos," he says, looking back at the Tops parking lot. "People crying, people screaming, and I joined them when I saw those bodies, all by the door. Bodies of my friends."
Marshall, affectionately known in town as "Mr. Tony," is cooking for hundreds of residents in mourning on Buffalo's East Side. The jitney driver, who spends a majority of his days at Tops picking up and dropping off employees and shoppers, says he is "emotionally drained."
"It started the moment I got here and saw my people on the ground and it hasn't ended since," he told CNN. "There's nothing else I want to do but be here, because this is one of them deals where if we let that grief fester, none of us are going to want to be here. And if we're not here, once again the community suffers."
Sounds of hope and pain engulf the block, brief laughter mingled with audible crying. Across the street and under a tree commemorated with flowers and candles for those lost, a man wraps his arms around a woman whose tears appear to have no end.
Beside them, a group of young people pass around a small microphone, shouting words of hope. "We will not be broken!" one woman cries.
<