8-year-old girl hides in a cooler to stay safe from Buffalo mass shooter

8-year-old girl hides in a cooler to stay safe from Buffalo mass shooter

A mother was seen in harrowing footage writhing on the floor after thinking that her eight-year-old daughter and her husband were killed by the white supremacist gunman at a Buffalo supermarket.

Londin Thomas, 8, was at the Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo with her parents on Saturday to buy supplies for a birthday cookout for her mother, Julie Hartwell.

Londin and her father Lamont Thomas told WKBW that her mother was in the meat section while they went to grab ingredients to bake a cake for her as a surprise when shots rang out.

'We all ran to the back where the milk freezes were at and he was shooting at the milk and the milk was leaking through the metal, but the bullet did not go through the metal,' Londin recalled. 'My dad was just trying to hide me.'

In a flash, the supermarket aisles were transformed into a scene of mass murder. Carts lay abandoned. Bodies littered the tile floor. Police radios crackled with calls for help.

Survivors were in shock and disbelief as they stumbled out of the store, with Hartwell among the many who were inconsolable as they realized their loved ones were still inside.

Police said Payton Gendron, 18, wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera, shot a total of 11 black people and two white people in Saturday's rampage before surrendering to authorities. Ten people were killed in the massacre.

When the shots rang out Saturday afternoon, Londin's father told WKBW that his first instinct was to grab his daughter and run to the back. They hid in a milk cooler and Thomas kept his hand over her mouth as bullets ripped through the store and gallons of milk exploded around them.

'They never stopped,' Thomas said. 'You just gotta think, I know I'm not in this situation that I thought I'd never be.'

Londin's mother Julie Hartwell was in the meat section of the store and said she could hear the gunman's footsteps getting louder and closer. But her only concern was her daughter.

'My first instinct was dropping down to the floor and crawling on my chest, ' she said. 'Not really trying to put my head up, not really trying to look at anything. I was just trying to get somewhere safe. But at the same time, I'm worried about my daughter.'

Hartwell added that what she saw in the store that day was so gruesome, she can't get it out of her head.

'I saw dead bodies—if he's coming back and walking and just looking at people to see if they're even moving and if they were moving, he shot them,' she said.

Once outside of the store, Hartwell was inconsolable when she realized her partner and daughter were still inside.

In new video footage that shows the terror in the shooting's aftermath, the gunman is seen being cuffed by police.

Bystanders and shoppers are heard crying and yelling for loved ones.

'Omg, he shot so many people in there,' one man cries out.

Londin and her father were separated from her mother for 20 minutes. Hartwell said those moments when she was looking for her daughter were the most terrifying of her life.

They had ended up on the Landon Street side of Tops after being let out of the building while Hartwell ended up on Riley Street on the other side of the building.

Hartwell said those 20 minutes they were separated were some of the longest moments of her life.

'Twenty minutes later they gave me my daughter,' she said. 'That was the most longest wait I've had in my life.'

Londin said she was scared for her mother, but felt safe with her father.

'I was scared for my mom,' she said. 'I did not know what happened to her because she was in the front and I was in the back. I didn't know where she was. I thought she was gone.'

'I love her a lot,' Londin added. 'She's the best mom I've ever seen in the whole entire world.'

Investigators will try, for days to come, to piece together the massacre that killed 10 people, all black and apparently hunted for the color of their skin.

President Joe Biden flew Tuesday to mourn at the site of America's latest deadly mass shooting, warning that the white supremacist ideology motivating the alleged gunman is tearing the country's 'soul' apart.

In the hastily organized trip to Buffalo, New York, Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill Biden, reprised the wearily familiar role for presidents of consoler-in-chief.

He was to begin by meeting families of the 10 African Americans murdered allegedly by a white gunman in a neighborhood supermarket Saturday.

Payton Gendron, 18, who is accused of murdering 10 people in a 'racist hate crime ' after firing a barrage of 50 shots at a supermarket in upstate New York reportedly conducted 'reconnaissance' at the store before carrying out his attack.

Also scheduled were meetings with community leaders and first responders, as well as a visit to a makeshift memorial at the supermarket to offer 'condolences and comfort to those affected by this tragedy,' a White House official said.

Biden will then deliver a speech that, like so many he's given, will urge Congress to overcome division on restricting firearms ownership, a constitutionally protected right that has led to there being more guns than people in the world's richest nation.

After decades of mass shootings in schools, nightclubs, movie theaters and churches, many Americans are numb to each new outrage, while presidents have repeatedly discovered their powerlessness to change laws in the face of a reluctant Congress.

In Saturday's rampage, the killer wielded an AR-15, a military style weapon which has been used repeatedly in mass shootings around the country while at the same time being one of the most popular rifles for legitimate gun enthusiasts.

Having long campaigned unsuccessfully to ban assault-style rifles, Biden will once more demand laws to 'keep weapons of war off our streets,' the White House official said.

He will also highlight the failure to keep firearms away from people with serious mental illness who are 'a danger to themselves or others.'