BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, New York, will be reopening this Friday, just over two months since 10 people were killed in a mass shooting at the store.
On May 14, 10 people at the supermarket were fatally shot and three others were injured by a gunman who reportedly traveled “hours” to carry out the attack, officials said. Every victim who died was Black; the accused shooter is a suspected white supremacist.
“This was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said shortly after the shooting. “A straight-up racially motivated hate crime.”
Since the shooting, the store has remained closed as crews have been working to redesign and renovate the space.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, while previewing the work in late June, had said he hoped the redesign will help the community feel safer about returning to the market.
“The store looks completely different inside, it does not look like the same store,” Brown said at the time.
Still, some in the community say they’re unsure about going back.
“Some say … they’re not sure how they will feel when it reopens if they want to even shop there. And some say they may not even shop at all,” said Leonard Lane, president of the anti-violence organization Buffalo F.A.T.H.E.R.S.
“That’s a long time for anyone to go without fresh fruits and fresh vegetables in the neighborhood, but at the same time, the wounds are still fresh,” Lane told WIVB. “People are still grieving over their loved ones and over their families.”
The day prior to the store’s reopening on July 14 — exactly two months after the mass shooting — a number of elected officials and community representatives are planning to hold a moment of silence and prayer at the store. Tops President John Persons will also be present during the observance, scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.
When the building reopens on July 15, shoppers will notice an entirely new layout, new products and even more organic options.
There will also be substantial security improvements, according to Brown.
“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.