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Walmart to reopen El Paso store after mass shooting

El Paso grieves after mass shooting
El Paso grieves after mass shooting: “There are no words to explain this pain” 02:56

Walmart plans to reopen the El Paso store where 22 people were killed in a mass shooting this month, the retail giant said Thursday, but the entire interior of the building will first be rebuilt.

The renovated store will include a permanent on-site memorial honoring the victims of the shooting, many of whom were Latino, and recognizing the "binational relationship between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez" just across the border in Mexico, Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said. The project is expected to take three to four months.

Nearly all of the 400 employees at the El Paso store have been reassigned to other nearby locations, Hargrove said, and the Arkansas-based company believes reopening the store is "an important step in healing from this tragedy."

"Nothing will erase the pain of Aug. 3 and we're hopeful that reopening 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 said. 

A Walmart spokesperson said in a statement that the company will share more details about the reopening in the coming weeks. 

Families of shooting victims speak out on the future of gun control 03:39

Authorities took more than 10 days to finish processing evidence in the store before returning control of the property to Walmart. 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.

Many shoppers from Ciudad Juarez went there because it is the closest Walmart to the four border bridges that connect to El Paso. Eight of the people killed in the shooting were Mexican citizens and the vast majority had Hispanic names.

Police said the suspected gunman, Patrick Crusius, confessed to targeting Mexicans in the attack. They also said that the suspected shooter is the likely author of an anti-Latino screed published shortly before the shooting. It criticized race-mixing and called Hispanics "invaders."

Crusius has been on a suicide watch in an El Paso jail since Aug. 7, according to El Paso County Sheriff's office spokeswoman Chris Acosta. Crusius has been separated from other inmates, Acosta said Wednesday.

In the days after the shooting, Hargrove said the company is reviewing security protocols. Walmart launched computer-based active shooter training in 2015 and has since increased frequency of its instruction and added a virtual reality component. 

The El Paso City Council has been researching the possibility of requiring armed security guards for large stores, and of requiring certain additional security features at store entrances.

"People are not picking on Walmart in particular, but they used to have off-duty officers hired there all the time. And then for some reason, it went away," police chief Greg Allen told city council members in an Aug. 8 briefing.

A police spokesman declined to elaborate on the chief's comments and referred questions to Walmart.

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