Buffalo shooting victim Kat Massey remembered as 'constant presence' in community

Nearly one year ago, the Buffalo News published a letter to the editor by Katherine “Kat” Massey, a 72-year-old local resident, denouncing the city’s escalating gun violence and calling for stricter federal gun laws.

Massey’s funeral was held Monday, nine days after she and nine others were killed in a mass shooting at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo.

Authorities say the alleged gunman, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, of Conklin, N.Y., was motivated by extremist ideologies, including the “great replacement" conspiracy theory that white people are being systematically replaced by people of color through immigration. Federal authorities are investigating the May 14 shooting as a hate crime.

Inside Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Buffalo, Massey was remembered as a “constant presence” in the community.

“Kat Massey was a strong, proud Black woman,” Mayor Byron Brown said in a eulogy. “She was proficient in her history, and her culture and a lover of all people.

“She was a warm and welcoming spirit, and had a beautiful and brilliant smile that could light up the atmosphere, cut through every conflict and warm your heart.

Katherine Massey
Kat Massey in 2011. {Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News}

“We all should have the kind of energy and stamina that Kat Massey had,” the mayor added.

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.

“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 on 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.”

At her funeral, Massey’s family members shared a letter she had written to them in January. In it, she said that while she wasn’t in ill health, she wanted to write to them because she believed she’d be the next in her family to die.

“My prayer is for me to be the next to go,” she wrote. “I am overdue.”