(BOULDER, Colo.) — Nearly a year after a gunman opened fire at a King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado, killing 10 people, the grocery store has reopened.
A marching band helped mark Wednesday’s reopening — a joyful yet somber celebration attended by local officials and community members that honored the victims and paid tribute to the first responders of the March 22, 2021, mass shooting.
Instead of a ribbon-cutting, the manager of the Table Mesa King Soopers store and the city’s mayor tied a ribbon together to signal their strength.
“Just like the strength of this knot, we are strong,” King Soopers spokesperson Kelli McGannon told the crowd.
There was also a moment of silence for the workers, shoppers and Boulder police officer killed in the shooting: Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Officer Eric Talley, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.
King Soopers officials said they would also be installing a remembrance tree garden on the west side of the store, planting one tree for each victim.
The 10 trees will “remind us of the dark day, the day of evil that occurred here,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told the crowd, though he noted that the reopening marks a “turning point for the community to move forward.”
“Today is really a symbol of that perseverance. It’s the beginning of a new chapter,” the governor said. “I want to thank everybody whose hard work led to this occasion and wish everybody affected — family members, team members, shoppers — well in the journey of healing that we are all undertaking and for which today is a very important step.”
The store’s manager, Sheri Bosman, gave emotional remarks at the reopening.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time. We’ve come a long way in the past year,” she said, getting choked up.
“We were strong in the beginning. We continue to build our strength. We’re stronger than ever,” she continued. “My heart is thankful we are back together with our incredible Table Mesa associates and the South Boulder community.”
The redesign includes a new entry and higher ceilings with more lighting, as well as safety enhancements. The company hasn’t elaborated on those features because it is proprietary information and could pose a risk to share.
Local shoppers came by to support the workers and community and to lay flowers at the site.
“There’s been a lot of grieving and I feel the fact that the store’s open again will give everybody a chance to regroup and celebrate the fact that our spirit is strong,” Michelle Weiner-Davis, a family therapist who shops at the store, told Denver ABC affiliate KMGH-TV.
In the wake of the shooting, King Soopers committed a $1 million donation to the Colorado Healing Fund to help provide mental health services and other financial relief to survivors and others who have been traumatized by the event.
Mental health partners were also on site for the opening, Bosman said.
As the store reopens, the case against the alleged shooter is ongoing. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 22, faces 10 counts of first-degree murder, among other charges, in connection with the shooting. A possible motive has not been released.
In December, a judge ruled that he was incompetent to stand trial and the suspect was ordered to undergo further treatment in the state mental hospital. A hearing has been scheduled for March 15 to review his condition.
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