Family of Buffalo shooting victim speaks as vigil held in metro Atlanta

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 6:12 PM EDT|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
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MARIETTA, Ga. (CBS46) - One of the victims of Saturday’s deadly supermarket shooting in New York has ties to metro Atlanta.

Three days after her cousin, Pearl Young, was gunned down, Jerri Young Washington, of Douglasville, said her prayer is that she doesn’t become what she and her family have experienced.

“There are no words to describe the pain,” she said. “You don’t just wake up one day and do what he did unless you were taught.”

Pearl Young was one of ten Black people killed when a white man traveled three hours to Buffalo and went on what authorities said was a shooting rampage fueled by racism. Payton Gendron, 18, was arraigned on a state murder charge over the weekend. He remains jailed under suicide watch as federal prosecutors contemplate hate-crime charges.

“What’s the difference from what he’s done to us than what Putin has done to Ukraine,” asked Jerri. “It’s the same. May not be as massive scale but the same, and it’s deep.”

Jerri had just seen Pearl two weeks prior. The two cousins attended a luncheon in Buffalo to celebrate Jerri’s pastor, Bishop Matthew Brown.

“We just couldn’t stop talking and loving on one another,” she recalled. “I kept telling her, ‘Come to Georgia. Stay with me. Spend some time with me,’ and she just said, ‘We’ll see.’ Well, here we are.”

“It’s deeply personal,” added Brown. “Mother Pearl was one of the most engaging, loving, supportive, friendly people you would ever want to meet in your life.”

Brown is a Buffalo native but has been the pastor of Greater Community Church of God in Christ in Marietta for the past 10 years. Many of his congregants are Buffalo transplants and knew the victims.

“As horrific as this is, we still have to continue the work of unity, love and walking in grace and somehow bringing this nation together,” Brown said.

Saturday’s tragedy could have been even more heartbreaking for the Young family. Jerri said Pearl was with another cousin earlier in the day. The cousin dropped Pearl off at the store to visit a church member. The 77-year-old reportedly was picking up groceries for her pastor.

“Some people talk, and they touch,” Jerri said. “That was Pearl. I talk and touch and I miss her. We are a lot alike. We really were a lot alike. Our family, we like being together. This will be our hardest.”

On Tuesday, President Biden condemned white supremacy and said the nation must “reject the lie” of the racist “replacement theory” espoused by the shooter.