Walmart to reopen, renovate El Paso store with memorial to shooting victims

Vic Kolenc

EL PASO, Texas – Walmart officials have decided to reopen the Cielo Vista store where an Aug. 3 mass shooting took 22 lives and injured 25 others.

"We heard loud and clear from associates (Walmart employees) and community leaders that reopening the store is important to ultimately healing from the tragedy of Aug. 3," said Randy Hargrove, a spokesman at Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

"Nothing will erase (the) pain of August 3rd and we are hopeful that re-opening the store will be another testament to the strength and resiliency that has characterized the El Paso community in the wake of this tragedy," Hargrove added in an email.

The company notified El Paso Mayor Dee Margo of the decision in a letter Wednesday.

Margo in a statement issued Wednesday night said, "The call by the Cielo Vista Walmart associates to reopen their store is a testament to the resilance of our community."

Aerial photographs of Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall where a shooting that killed 22 and wounded 25 others happened Saturday, August, 3. Some vehicles still remain in the crime scene.

The Cielo Vista store, which was one of the busiest Walmarts in the nation, is expected to open in three to four months after the interior is renovated, Hargrove said.

Walmart also plans to add a memorial for the shooting victims at the store site, he said.

"In consideration of our associates, the victims and our customers, we have decided to rebuild the entire interior of the store," Hargrove said.

Plans call for installing new fixtures, new flooring and replacing all merchandise, Hargrove said.

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El Paso Police returned the store to Walmart's control Aug. 14 after the Police Department and the FBI completed their investigation of the crime scene.

Flowers, crosses and handwritten messages now adorn a makeshift memorial outside one of the store’s entrances. Hundreds of residents have visited in the wake of the shooting, where social workers hand out bottled water and offer counseling services.

“If we close it, they win,” said Laura Lopez, 59, who brought her gardening gloves from home to help clear dead flowers from the memorial site Thursday. “Life goes on and you’ve got to go on.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow Vic Kolenc on Twitter: @vickolenc

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: El Paso mass shooting: Walmart plans to reopen store after renovations