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Family of Tops massacre victim Andre Mackneil remembers loving father, brother, uncle

Pastor Tim Newkirk (far left), Vyonne Elliott (middle) and Lynda (right) talk about their loved one, Andre Mackneil, after President Joe Biden's visit to Buffalo.
Emyle Watkins
Pastor Tim Newkirk (far left), Vyonne Elliott (middle) and Lynda (right) talk about their loved one, Andre Mackneil, after President Joe Biden's visit to Buffalo.

Vyonne Elliott lost the last living member of his immediate family in the racist mass shooting in Buffalo last weekend. His brother was 53-year-old Andre Mackneil.

“He was my brother. He was all I had left, actually," Elliott said. "I lost my mother, I lost my father and our baby brother. And Andre was all I had left."

Mackneil was at the store on Saturday to buy a cake for his three-year-old son's birthday.

"He bought his son a cake and never came out," Vyonne said.

Lynda, Vyonne's 15-year-old daughter, described a caring uncle who was always there for her.

"He was the first one to say happy birthday," she said. "He just made the world such a better place."

"He always used to come over and just sit on the couch and talk. He always had the best advice for me when I was in such horrible situations," she added.

They loved making funny videos on Tik Tok together.

“He was so sweet, the funniest Tik Toks, just all of it ... he was such a good man," Lynda said.

And Lynda describes her uncle as someone who made her feel so special.

“He always made Sept. 8 so special to me because I came back on the day his mom was taken from him and he always made sure I knew I was special. So that will always be a special day to me. Because of him. It wasn't for anybody else, not even for myself. But it was for him," Lynda said.

Pastor Tim Newkirk of GYC Ministries played basketball with Mackneil, and also testified to the loving, caring person Mackneil was.

“He was a person that everybody knew in the community. He was a loving father and he was an iconic brother and he was doing what he was supposed to do, staying in his neighborhood and bettering his community, bettering his neighborhood with his family and his loved ones," Newkirk said. "And he's going to be forever missed."

Mackneil's family is still coming to terms with the fact Mackneil's life was taken in a racially motivated mass shooting that authorities have called a hate crime. The white supremacist gunman entered Tops with the intent to to shoot Black people like Mackneil.

Lynda said an "evil man" took her uncle from her, while Elliot said he still couldn't believe what had happened.

"My brother was taken ... the last of my life was taken from me," he said, "but at the end of the day, I'm a Christian and godly and justice will take care of it.”

Emyle Watkins is an investigative journalist covering disability for WBFO.