At Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, family members quote Scripture and evoke God’s vengeance and mercy.
Kimberly Salter stood in court to face her husband’s killer for the first time on Wednesday. With a hand on her heart and wearing red that she said represented her husband’s shed blood, she simply read three passages from the Bible on God’s love and his vengeance.
“You will reap what you sow,” she said, quoting Galatians 6:7.
Salter was among a string of family members who shared Scripture in statements to Payton Gendron, the 19-year-old who killed 10 Black people and wounded three others at Tops grocery story in Buffalo last May. Police detained him before he could kill more.
Gendron made his racist motivations clear. He had posted a manifesto saying he wanted to preserve white power in the US, and he drove three hours to Buffalo to target a majority Black neighborhood. During the shooting, which he live-streamed, he apologized to one white person whom he shot and wounded by accident.
He pleaded guilty to murder and hate-motivated terrorism state charges in November last year.
The East Buffalo neighborhood where the mass shooting took place has exponentially more churches than grocery stores and a thick Christian community. Many of the victims, like security guard Aaron Salter, were believers and active in their churches.
At the sentencing hearing in New York state court, Kimberly Salter stated that “God is love, and he offers love to each and every one of us.” The widow recited John 3:16, but then she read the entirety of Psalm 35, an imprecatory prayer:
“Let those be put to shame and brought to dishonor who seek after my life. Let those be turned back and brought to confusion who plot my hurt. Let them be like chaff before the wind and let the angel of the Lord chase them. Let …