BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Calling 8-year-old Londin Thomas brave is an understatement.
She was inside the Jefferson Avenue Tops grocery store in Buffalo with her parents Saturday during a deadly mass shooting. Throughout it all, she remained calm and stuck by her dad.
“I didn’t know what was going on, I just, like, followed my dad,” she said. “I don’t know why I wasn’t scared. I’m just brave.”
She was at Tops with her parents, Lamont Thomas and Julie Hartwell, getting groceries for a Saturday afternoon cookout. Londin and her dad broke away to look at cake mixes.
“That’s when all the shots rang out,” Lamont Thomas said. “At first, you don’t think that it’s going to be that. You think a couple shots, and it’s over with pretty quick, but once it kept going and getting louder and closer, then you finally kick in and realize what’s going on.”
Hartwell talked about the feeling of not being with her family at the time of the shooting.
“The horrific footsteps and everything that, like tied into the chaos, I just wished I was with my daughter at that time,” she said. “I was mad that I didn’t even know where she was at.”
Lamont and Londin rushed to the back of the store and hid in a cooler.
“We followed a lady to the milk coolers, and we just hid back there and waited for the shots to stop,” Lamont said.
“I wasn’t really scared,” Londin added. “I was scared for my mom because I thought something happened to her.”
The family said the next 20 minutes, prior to being reunited, felt like a lifetime.
“It felt like an eternity to me. It went on forever,” Julie said. “I’m just glad that she was safe and she was taken care of. That’s all I cared about.”
The family is OK now but says those memories won’t be going away.
“What are we going to do after this? That’s all I’m worried about,” Julie said. “Because my kid has to grow up here. What is the next step to prevent this from even happening anymore?”
Ten people were killed in Saturday’s shooting and three more were injured. President Joe Biden visited the city Tuesday, calling the shooting “domestic terrorism.”
“Evil did come to Buffalo and has come to all too many places. A manifesting gunman, who massacred innocent people in the name of hateful and perverse ideology, rooted in fear and racism. It’s taken so much. Ten lives cut short in a grocery store, three others wounded by a hateful individual,” Biden said during his visit. He went on to call white supremacy a “poison” to the country.