Beyond the Call of Duty: Aaron Salter, Jr., Recognized with Security Heroism Award
Aaron Salter, Jr., played drums and bass guitar at his church and was known for his love of cars, inventing an engine that could run on water via hydrogen electrolysis in his free time outside of his security work.
He had spent 30 years on the Buffalo Police force in New York, retiring as a lieutenant in the traffic division in 2018 before taking on the role of a security officer with Allied Universal at Tops Friendly Market. At his post at the grocery store, Salter worked with a familiar face—Tomar Hubbard, Allied Universal site supervisor, and Salter’s former partner on the Buffalo Police Force.
“Aaron loved cars and knew how to paint them. I had an old Pontiac that had been sitting at a friend’s collision shop forever,” Tomar wrote about his former partner. “Then one day, I went to the shop, and the car wasn’t there. When I asked Aaron where it was, he said ‘I got sick of looking at it, so I painted it for you.’ That’s the kind of friend he was.”
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Salter was known for his generosity, and for being a trusted member of the community in which he lived and worked—making Tops Friendly Market patrons feel safe with his outgoing and friendly personality.
When a gunman wearing tactical gear and armed with an assault rifle entered Tops Friendly on 14 May 2022, Salter took action to protect customers and staff. He confronted the gunman, fired multiple shots from his service weapon, and struck the attacker’s body armor. The gunman returned fire, and Salter and 10 others were killed, while three others were injured.
Salter’s actions, however, likely slowed the gunman’s assault and gave many people time to move to safety as police responded to the scene to apprehend the attacker, who is now facing federal hate crime charges and charges that he allegedly planned to commit an act of terrorism.
To recognize the sacrifice that Salter made to protect others, he is being posthumously awarded the Ralph Day Security Heroism Award from the ASIS Security Services Community.
The annual award is presented to a front-line security officer who has performed in a superior, gallant, or heroic manner in the course of his or her duties and, in doing so, has far exceeded the expectations of their position and training. The award is meant to recognize an individual who performed a heroic act which involved circumstances where a private security officer risks his or her life or personal well-being to save another person.
Allied Universal nominated Salter for the award in 2022. In the application, Global Chairman and CEO Steve Jones wrote that Salter’s death in the line of duty was a “tremendous loss for the Allied Universal team.”
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“We admire Aaron, not just for his heroic actions in May, but for the heroic life he lived protecting and serving the community for more than 30 years,” Jones said. “We adamantly denounce the racism and violence that fueled this heinous attack.”
Salter is survived by his wife of 33 years, Kimberly; his son, Aaron Salter III; and two daughters, Latisha, 30, and Tonya, 22. Aaron Salter III will accept the award on his father’s behalf at the ASIS Awards Celebration on Tuesday, 13 September, at 4:30 p.m. ET at GSX 2022.
A ticket for the awards ceremony is included in All-Access Pass registration. Additional tickets may be purchased through GSX’s registration provider, MCI.
Megan Gates is the editor-in-chief of the GSX Daily and senior editor of Security Management. Connect with her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @mgngates.