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The legacy of Deacon, who served his life for two years after the Buffalo mass shooting

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — For Deacon Heyward Patterson, serving his community was a big part of his life.

Today, two years after he was shot and killed during the mass shooting at Tops in Buffalo, those affected continue to come together to give back in his memory.

“Deacon Patterson has been a vital part of our ministry here, and he’s done so much,” said Pastor Russell Bell of State Tabernacle Church of God in Christ on Glenwood Avenue.

Pastor Russell Bell

WKBW

Pastor Russell Bell

Deacon Patterson was a familiar face at his church and was often the first to attend and the last to leave. Patterson was a faithful man, who gladly opened and closed the church, cleaned the church, removed ice and snow, and even helped out at the church soup kitchen – Plate of Love Ministry.

“Deacon Patterson truly loved volunteering and helping,” said Penny Beckham, founder of Plate of Love Ministry.

Penny Beckham

WKBW

Penny Beckham

At Plate of Love, Patterson spoke to customers who came in to pick up food and gave them hope.

“He was not only a deacon, he was a friend to the community,” said Plate of Love customer Gregory Elmore.

Gregory Elmore

WKBW

Gregory Elmore

“When my mom passed away, I sat down and talked to him and he just gave me advice and told me everything was going to be okay,” Elmore said. “He was the man to talk to.”

Patterson was also helping distribute clothing donations with her son’s godmother, Sharon Griffin.

“He was just a great person,” Griffin said. “He will never be forgotten, we love him dearly and his death has left a great impact, grief and pain for us all.”

Sharon Griffin

WKBW

Sharon Griffin

Beckham said that on May 14, 2022, she was closing Plate of Love Ministry and Deacon Patterson was also at the church. She said he left early to go to Tops on Jefferson Avenue and take people home with their groceries.

Deacon Patterson was shot and killed while helping someone buy groceries in the parking lot.

“He died serving,” Beckham said.

“There was nothing special about where he was at the time,” said Lenny Lane, a friend of Patterson’s. “Serving people is what he loved to do.”

Two years after Patterson’s sudden death, his church community continues to choose positivity over anger, supporting each other as Patterson would.

“We understand here that we are better together, and if we want our community to be strong, we all have to pitch in and do our part,” Griffin said.