One boy in Western New York was hoping to celebrate his third birthday on May 14, but the day quickly changed when someone opened fire at a Buffalo grocery store that afternoon.

Ten were killed, three were wounded, and one of the ten people we lost that day was the birthday boy’s father.

Andre Mackniel.

Mackniel parked his car in the Tops parking lot on Jefferson Avenue that day, on May 14, because he needed to pick up a birthday cake for his three-year-old son. He hustled into the store, but Mackniel never made it out.  

Mackniel was shot and killed at his local grocery store, a place that is suppose to feel safe, and he never made it home to celebrate his boy’s birthday. 

The family held off on their birthday celebrations as they were grieving an unexpected loss of someone who was an important part of their lives. 

After much consideration, the family decided to move forward with a small birthday party on Monday night. 

Together, the Mackniel family gathered at the Cereal Spot in North Buffalo to celebrate the birthday of Andre Jr., but they had an unexpected guest.

Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins first met Andre Jr. at the grocery store where Andre Mackniel Sr. went to purchase the birthday cake, and after meeting Andre Jr. in person, Dawkins decided to surprise him and his family by showing up for the birthday party.

When News 4 asked Dawkins about Andre, he said, “I’m going to treat him like family now, whether it’s a big brother or whatever I can be for that little kid. 

While being there for Andre Jr. is already touching, Dawkins said he is working on getting the boy a dream birthday gift: tickets to the Bills home opener against Tennessee.

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