The Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that was the site of a mass shooting on August 3 is reopening to the public. Dozens of employees and residents gathered to celebrate a big step in the healing process for the community. They erupted into cheers as a giant American flag and a banner with the phrase #ELPASOSTRONG were unveiled outside the store.
Inside, employees greeted customers with cheers and hugs as they got their first look inside the remodeled store. One of the customers, who traveled from Juarez, Mexico, had to wipe back tears as she remembered being inside the store when a white supremacist opened fire. She told CNN that while she escaped unharmed, she has been having nightmares about the traumatic experience.
"I'm here because my therapist told me I should come," she said.
Most of the employees who were working at the store remained with Walmart, and many of them were excited to get back to work.
"At the beginning, you could see some hugs and tears, and now you see some hugs and some smiles and laughter, so that's really encouraging to see that they've gone through some healing process just working together side by side," general manager Robert Evans told KVIA-TV. "I've been there to support them in overcoming what happened August 3, and giving the sense of hope at the end of this tragic event that happened, and that they can get back to some kind of a normal life."
A memorial for the 22 victims is still under construction, and Walmart expects it will be finished sometime next week. The memorial, which is called the Grand Candela, features 22 aluminum arcs, tied together to form one giant 30-foot monument. It is designed to look like candles and will project a beam of light into the sky.
Photo: Getty Images