Nearly one year ago, the Buffalo News published a letter to the editor by a local woman, Katherine Massey, denouncing the city’s escalating gun violence and urging stronger federal gun laws.
Massey, 72, was one of 10 people killed in Saturday’s mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., by a gunman who police say was motivated by extremist ideologies, including the “great replacement" conspiracy theory that white people are being replaced by people of color through immigration.
Almost all the victims in Saturday’s massacre were Black. Federal authorities are investigating the shooting as a hate crime.
Massey’s letter, published on May 30, 2021, came after the fatal shooting of a local legislator’s cousin in Buffalo. Massey called the slaying another “gut-wrenching” reminder of the gun violence epidemic in U.S. cities, including her own.
“There needs to be extensive federal action/legislation to address all aspects of the issue,” she wrote. “Current pursued remedies mainly inspired by mass killings — namely, universal background checks and banning assault weapons — essentially exclude the sources of our city’s gun problems. Illegal handguns, via out of state gun trafficking, are the primary culprits.”
The letter was one of several written by Massey and published in local newspapers in recent years.
In another, published by the Challenger News on Aug. 16, 2018, Massey bemoaned gun violence while calling for the Buffalo Police Department to hire more Black officers.
“Screams of anguish from family members bent over in shock and grief!” she wrote. “Increasingly, this is the painful snapshot on the TV news (in Buffalo and many cities across the US) due to their loved ones — infants to grandparents — lost in the rampage of gun murders.
“I’m wondering if an increasing lack of connection to the Higher Power, especially among numbers of youth, is producing cold-hearted individuals,” she added. “Prayer was kicked out of schools and the guidance of the Ten Commandments is almost obsolete. Mostly older adults are publicly praying for God Almighty’s assistance in stopping the violence. May those ongoing prayers be answered.”
Massey’s brother said she asked him to drop her off at the Tops supermarket on Saturday so she could do some shopping and had asked him to return in 45 minutes.
“I came back and they were putting out the tape,” Warren Massey told the Washington Post. “I knew she was gone when she didn’t call us.”