Jerome Bridges, 45, a scan coordinator checking bar codes in the dairy section, was in Aisle 14. The sounds of gunfire were coming closer, and, thinking quickly, Mr. Bridges made it to a conference room. Others were already there. Mr. Bridges pushed a table against the doors as a barricade, then fortified that with a filing cabinet.
Long minutes passed this way as the death toll rose: the 86-year-old mother of a former city fire commissioner, a 77-year-old woman who ran a food pantry, the 55-year-old security guard who would be hailed as a hero for returning fire.
Outside the store, three victims were dead, and one was bleeding from a shot to the neck — Zaire Goodman, the cart worker. In the frantic minutes after he fell, another worker found him, helped him to his feet and fast-walked him across the street. The woman he had been helping was one of the dead. Inside Tops, those who had found shelter froze in place — in the bathroom, behind a register, beneath the customer service counter.
The shooting stopped. The next sound Ms. Rogers heard beneath the counter was the squawk of a police radio. She slowly stood, hands in the air, and saw a police officer. She asked, “Can I get out?”
Ms. Brown, the young mother behind the register, looked up to see an officer. She and others would soon learn what had happened: The gunman, who had written that his plan was to drive around the neighborhood, shooting more Black people and possibly striking a second store, had emerged from Tops and, confronted by the police, raised the barrel of his rifle to his chin before officers tackled him. The Erie County sheriff, John Garcia, would later refuse to speak his name at a news briefing: “As far as we’re concerned, he’s Inmate Control Number 157103.”
Soon after the gunfire stopped, another aspect of the plot became clear: The gunman had worn a camera mounted on his helmet, livestreaming the carnage. Despite efforts to remove the video from the internet, it was viewed millions of times — including, surprisingly, by employees at Tops.