KEY POINTS

  • Fragrance Stanfield and her daughter were working at the Tops grocery store Saturday 
  • Stanfield got separated from her daughter when the suspect opened fire
  • She later learned her daughter was crouched down by a register during the gunfire

A mother nearly thought she lost her daughter when a teenage gunman opened fire at a New York City supermarket Saturday, killing 10 people. "By the grace of God we got out," she says.

Fragrance Harris Stanfield and her 20-year-old daughter had gone to work as usual at Buffalo's Tops grocery store Saturday. But Stanfield, a customer service lead at the supermarket, felt something was amiss that day.

The mother of seven experienced some pain in her neck and felt something was off but "didn't know what it was," she told Audacy. "I turned around to tell my daughter how I was feeling, and we heard gunshots. We weren't sure they were here at our building, so everyone stopped and turned and looked for the front door."

Stanfield saw the store's security guard reach for his gun and move backward. The mother then grabbed her daughter, whose name was not revealed, and began running without waiting to see the security guard exchange fire with the suspect, who was later identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron.

"We ran, we ran for our lives," she added. "My daughter panicked. I did not know she wasn't with me. I had grabbed her to come with me. She panicked."

Stanfield got separated from her daughter as panic spread through the crowd at the store.

"I didn't know where she was," Stanfield told ABC News. "And I just thought, if she's gone, I gotta get out of here. She's got babies – she has a newborn, and she has a 3-year-old, so I still had to get out. If I went back for her and she was gone, I would be gone, too. And then they'll have nobody. So I still ran and ran out the back."

Stanfield eventually discovered that her daughter was crouched down by a register as the suspect fired a volley of shots inside the store. The daughter also saw two people getting shot.

While the suspect was walking by, the daughter "covered her face" so he "wouldn't hear her breathing," Stanfield told the outlet.

The heavily armed suspect eventually surrendered to cops. Erie County Sheriff John C. Garcia said the shooting was a "straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community." 

The white teen fatally shot 10 and injured three in the predominantly Black neighborhood. Eleven of the 13 victims were Black and two were white, authorities said. 

"The shooter traveled hours from outside this community to perpetrate this crime on the people of Buffalo, a day when people were enjoying the sunshine, enjoying family, enjoying friends," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference. "People in a supermarket, shopping and bullets raining down on them. People's lives being snuffed out in an instant for no reason."

"I think it's scary, but we can't live in fear," Stanfield said about the deadly incident. "We have to be able to move past this in love and in compassion. This is our community."

Police officers secure the scene after a shooting at TOPS supermarket in Buffalo Police officers secure the scene after a shooting at TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, New York, U.S. May 14, 2022. Photo: Reuters / STRINGER