BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Hours before a gunman opened fire at a busy Colorado supermarket, Teri Leiker called her mother to tell her how excited she was to be back from vacation at her job. front-end bagger where she loved her customers and colleagues.
She never came home.
About 30 minutes before she was due to end her shift on March 22, 2021, Leiker was shot and killed along with nine other people inside and outside the store. Nearly a year later, the redesigned King Soopers in the college town of Boulder is set to reopen on Wednesday, a move that triggers mixed emotions for the families of the victims.
For Leiker’s mother, Margie Whittington, the reopening of the store, which will bear the name of the neighborhood emblazoned on the front, is a way of showing that evil does not triumph.
“When they see ‘Table Mesa,’ they’ll know this store hasn’t been demolished and the shooter hasn’t prevailed,” said Whittingham, who said his daughter’s former co-workers and clients held out the hand to comfort her. Leiker, who lived independently despite cognitive impairment, worked at the store for 32 years.
But the uncle of Rikki Olds, a frontline manager who was also killed in the store, thinks it might have been better to demolish the store, to get rid of the place where so many tragedies happened. .
“What happened is still there,” Robert Olds said of the shooting.
Robert Olds hopes the newly designed store has better security than at the time of the shooting, including some of the measures he is responsible for as the school’s security supervisor. He would also like supermarkets to install panic buttons that alert the police in the event of a shooting and automatically lock the doors of stores, such as schools, and also monitor their security cameras for any signs of trouble, including at home. exterior of the store. Authorities say the shooter opened fire in the parking lot before entering.
He was unimpressed after visiting the new store this week, saying “it was the same place he was”.
A spokeswoman for King Soopers, Jessica Trowbridge, said a company-led survey found store employees and customers overwhelmingly want the store to reopen and the company has taken the changes into account. they had requested, including a lighter, brighter appearance created with a raised ceiling. and an almost entirely glazed entrance with views of the nearby Flatirons, the city’s signature rock formations.
“It’s their community and they wanted to get back to their community and their store,” said Trowbridge, who said about 50% of employees who worked at the store at the time of the shooting are returning to their jobs.
She declined to say if any changes had been made to security at the store. When media were allowed into the store on Tuesday, security guards were armed, but Trowbridge said she could not say if that would continue to be the case.
A memorial with 10 trees representing each of those killed is planned outside the store, she said.
The court case against the alleged gunman, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 22, has been on hold since December, when a judge ruled Alissa mentally unfit to stand trial and ordered him to be treated in hospital public psychiatrist to see if he can be recovered enough to stand trial.
Leiker’s mother, Whittington, credited Kroger, the company that owns King Soopers, with being sensitive to the feelings of its longtime customers by making changes to the store.
“The interior won’t look like it used to,” she said.
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