BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Tops Friendly Markets on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo officially reopened to the public Friday morning.
The reopening comes 62 days after a mass shooting occurred at the store. 10 people were killed and three others were injured. As Western New York mourns with the families who lost loved ones, 7 News wishes to honor their memory. You can learn more about each of the victims here.
On Thursday, which marked two months since the shooting, Tops held a moment of silence and prayer "to honor and respect all victims and impacted associates and community members." The media was then given a tour of the store ahead of its reopening.
Around 6 a.m. Friday a prayer service was held outside of the store and the fences around the store's parking lot were taken down.
Good morning from Jefferson Ave - outside @TopsMarkets - where the store is set to open for the first time in two months around 9am.— Ed Drantch (@EdDrantch) July 15, 2022
This morning, a prayer service for the ten who were killed on May 14 and for peace in this new chapter.@wkbw pic.twitter.com/QjP00he9kq
Around 7:45 a.m. cheers were heard throughout the parking lot as Tops employees prayed together and then walked into work.
Jerome Bridges, Lead Scan Coordinator at the store, who was inside the store during the shooting and worked to shelter people from the shooter told 7 News he was feeling emotional but ready to get back to work. Earlier this week Bridges was part of a group that went to Washington D.C. to have lunch with President Biden and witness the historic signing of a new anti-gun law.
Once the store reopened around 8 a.m. the first 225 customers were given $100 gift cards. 7 News spoke to Liz who was the first customer back in the store, she left with pork chops, a gift card and a job application.
Although many are happy to see the store reopen, there were some outside the store declaring that it was too soon to reopen. Those who gathered with signs said they understand why the store was reopened but want to have a community-wide conversation about other options while they heal.
I asked about this being the only option for this community being a food desert.— Taylor Epps (@taylor_epps_) July 15, 2022
Protestors say they get it, but want to have a community wide conversation about other options while they heal.
Although the store has reopened, that does not mean the community support will end. Free food donations will still be given out across the street from Tops. The NFTA also told 7 News free shuttles will also run until the end of July. Lenny Lane, President of Buffalo F.A.T.H.E.R.S., said his organization and Buffalo Peacemakers will continue to be a presence in the community. Lane said volunteers will even look to help residents shop.
A federal grand jury indicted the Buffalo mass shooting suspect on federal hate crime and firearm charges on Thursday. He is due back in court Monday.