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'We're A Beacon In The Community': Downtown Sacramento Bookstore Likely Saved Lives In Deadly Mass Shooting

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — In the window of a bookstore in downtown Sacramento, there are candles, flowers, and a poem: "Hope got a little harder today, still, I cannot let these types of days rob me of my faith in humanity."

The Capital Books on K storefront is feet from the center of Sacramento's worst mass shooting in history: six people dead, 12 injured. The store's front door and alcove turned into a respite when the shooting started at 2 a.m. on Sunday. The store's team doesn't know how many people hid protected from gunfire in the few inches of space near the door, but they believe lives were saved and without the space, the shooting would have been worse.

"I had to clean up blood off the windows that day," said Rachael Muro, the general manager of Capital Books on K. 

Muro said the news of what happened was "shocking" and the team wasn't able to access the store until Monday when law enforcement cleared the scene and reopened the street. She said the stories of their fellow K St. friends from other restaurants and businesses have "What ifs" running through their minds.

"Two doors down, someone we know ordered DoorDash and she had to pull her DoorDash driver inside right as it started," said Muro.

The store's owner told CBS13 they found blood and fake eyelashes stuck to the windows when they arrived to the store on Monday morning. That, he said, was a sign of how many people fit tightly into the space in front of their store to survive.

Muro said the store had considered putting up a gate after vandalism and cleanliness issues that stemmed from the unhouse population. It never happened. The space still sits open, and that, Muro said, likely saved more lives.

"At the same time, it's where somebody can stay the night out of the rain. It's hard," Muro said. "We never really pushed through with that idea because we thought about things like that."

Muro said Sunday's shooting was not the only time the store has become a safe haven in downtown. During protests, with tear gas in the air, the store's owner opened the bookstore for protestors to get away and breath.

Over the course of the week, Muro said store regulars have stopped in to support but mostly, to give hugs and check on the employees who call 10th and K St. their home away from home.

"We're more than just somewhere you shop. We're a beacon in the community," said Muro.

"Flowers have a healing capacity": Downtown Floral Shop Gives Out Free Bouquets

Liezet Arnold, owner of Bloem Decor Florist on 10th St., knew her business was in a special position to help the downtown community heal: through flowers.

On Monday, when her team was able to get back into their store, they set out a bucket of bouquets in memory of the victims of the shooting. From there, community and wholesale support flooded in to contribute and cover the costs of the bouquets.

"Flowers have a healing capacity, they always do. There's nothing more healing than giving somebody a flower," said Arnold.

Arnold said the local downtown community is especially struck by the loss of Melinda Davis who lived unhoused on 10th St. Davis was killed Sunday morning in crossfire during the shooting. The last time she spoke to Arnold, less than 48 hours before the tragedy.

"Last Friday, when I was closing up, she was sitting in front of the shop, she said, 'Do you have a purple rose?' I said, 'Yeah I have a purple rose.' So she got a purple rose," said Arnold.

Friday, a week after their last conversation, Arnold set out a bouquet of purple roses on the gate above were Davis chose to sleep. She mixed in the same flowers to the free bouquets in Melinda's honor. The bucket hasn't sat empty since Arnold's team got the idea to spread hope and healing, thanks to the community support in donations.

When it comes to the loss of Davis, Arnold said it's all their downtown community can talk about.

"She was, you know, challenging periodically, but she was always happy and cheerful, and part of our area, everybody feels really sad about that," said Arnold, who explained Davis was a familiar face on 10th Street downtown for nearly 15 years.

Arnold said she's been "surprised" at who has stopped by to pick up a bouquet for a memorial or in memory of one of the six victims. She said it's been a part of the healing process for the area, grappling with the violence that arrived to many businesses storefronts in the area.

Arnold checks on the bouquet at Capital Books on K to ensure it stays fresh and beautiful. A small gesture of solidarity amongst the business community.

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