BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo has officially reopened, but for many, the doors are opening too soon.
On May 14, 10 people were fatally shot and three others were injured in a mass shooting at the store. Every person killed was Black, and the accused shooter is a suspected white supremacist.
On Thursday, the suspect was indicted on 27 federal counts. If convicted, he could spend life in prison and receive the death penalty.
The store, meanwhile, has been undergoing a redesign and renovation since the shooting. And on Friday, just over two months since the tragedy, the doors reopened to the public.
Reaction to the store’s reopening was mixed. Some people showed up on Friday morning condemning the decision, with one holding a sign reading “This is not food justice!” and another that said “Two months is too soon to reopen these wounds.”
“In New York City, they had 9/11,” one man told WFXR’s sister station, WIVB. “They didn’t rebuild the Twin Towers there. They made it a memorial. They should have torn this Tops down, built a new one somewhere in this community,” he said.
Jerome Wright, the vice chair of Voice Buffalo, spoke to the media on Friday morning.
“We were assaulted and massacred,” he said, in front of a group of protesters. “Now, we’re being held hostage, because we don’t have any choice.”
Others were pleased to see the store reopening, including some employees. One man arrived to fill out a job application, telling WIVB he wouldn’t let anyone “scare him” from being comfortable in the place he calls home. Another employee gave hugs as she walked through the parking lot.
Earlier in the morning, prior to the opening of the store, an early morning worship service took place. The prayer service ended in applause.
Tops had previously offered community leaders and elected officials the chance to look inside the store prior to Friday’s opening. Officials also said new security measures would be put into place.
A “water wall” memorial has been installed inside, and more memorials, inside and outside, are planned.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, after visiting in late June, acknowledged that some residents might have trouble coming back to Tops after the shooting.
“Everyone is not gonna feel comfortable coming back to the store and we certainly understand that, but thousands of people in the community rely on that shopping option and I give Tops tremendous credit for listening to the community,” Brown said.