Buffalo supermarket to reopen 2 months after mass shooting that left 10 dead

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Two months after a white teenager allegedly killed 10 black people in what authorities described as a racially motivated mass shooting, the supermarket in Buffalo, New York, where the massacre occurred, is set to reopen.

The store will reopen to the public on Friday after a prayer service and a moment of silence scheduled for Thursday afternoon to honor the victims, store workers and community members affected by the May shooting, Tops Friendly Markets said in a statement. communicated. Senior leaders, along with community members, local dignitaries and other guests are expected to be on site Thursday, two months before the day of the shooting, and the company said the store will “reopen quietly and respectfully to the public. “, in his statement.

Thursday’s ceremony is due to begin at 2:30 p.m., marking the start of the mass shooting on May 14.

The store underwent extensive renovations to repair damage from the mass shooting, in which the suspected shooter fired more than 60 shots from a high-powered AR-15-style rifle, killing people in inside and outside the Jefferson Avenue store and leaving three injured.

Members of the Buffalo Police Department work at the scene of a shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, NY on May 17, 2022.

Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters, FILE

The store was turned over to Tops after investigators spent five days combing it for evidence. FBI officials said investigators used state-of-the-art scene scanning tools, spherical and drone photography, performed bullet trajectory analysis from the shooting, and reconstructed the shooting as the store was declared a crime scene.

At a May 19 press conference, Tops President John Persons promised the community that the store would “open it in a manner that is respectful for our associates, employees and the community at large.”

At the time, Persons said the renovations would include a way to commemorate the victims of the shooting.

“We’ve been committed to the City of Buffalo since our founding 60 years ago and this event doesn’t stop that commitment,” Persons said. “We will be here. We will be in this store.”

The market has been a vital part of Buffalo’s East End, local leaders said. In the predominantly black neighborhood, which has struggled to thrive after years of historic segregation and divestment, residents said the area’s only grocery store was a central resource and gathering place offering access to food costs and medication. A Buffalo councilman described the store to ABC News as “an oasis in the middle of a food desert.”

PHOTO: People hug near a memorial for the victims of the shooting outside Tops grocery store, May 20, 2022, in Buffalo, NY, where 10 people died in a mass shooting May 14.

People hug near a memorial for the shooting victims outside Tops Grocery Store, May 20, 2022, in Buffalo, NY, where 10 people died in a mass shooting on the 14 may.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images, FILE

Investigators said the suspected shooter, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, allegedly targeted the store after conducting reconnaissance for at least two months.

Gendron drove three hours from his home in Conklin, New York, the day before the shooting and reportedly spent time doing a final reconnaissance in the store before committing the mass shooting on a Saturday afternoon.

Authorities allege Gendron stormed the store brandishing a Bushmaster XM-15 .223 caliber rifle and dressed in military fatigues, body armor and wearing a tactical helmet with a camera attached. Gendron reportedly live-streamed the attack on gaming website Twitch before the company deleted the live stream two minutes after the shooting began.

Among those killed was Aaron Salter Jr., 55, a retired Buffalo policeman who worked as a security guard at the supermarket. Authorities said Salter shot the shooter, but the bullets had no effect due to the body armor the suspect was wearing.

Gendron was charged with 25 counts, including 10 counts of first degree murder, 10 counts of hate crime second degree murder, three counts of attempted hate crime murder and one count of felony possession of a weapon. . He is also the first person in New York history charged with domestic hate terrorism, a crime enacted in November 2020.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Gendron has also been charged with 26 federal counts, including 10 hate crime counts resulting in death. He has yet to plead against the federal charges.

Federal prosecutors have yet to announce whether they would seek the death penalty in the case.

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