CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – The Chesapeake Walmart where a gunman opened fire and killed six colleagues on Nov. 22 reopened Wednesday morning.
A ceremony was held at 9 a.m., then the doors were opened to the public.
The store underwent a significant $200,000 renovation that includes design changes and changes to the breakroom where the shooting took place.
The store also now features an outdoor memorial to honor the six victims who lost their lives. The memorial space will feature six seating structures in their honor. The memorial does not include the names of the victims.
This comes after the original memorial that was set up following the shooting was moved to storage due to the resurfacing and striping of the parking lot.
“We are deeply touched by the community’s compassion and support as we continue to heal
from last year’s tragedy,” said Alycia Mixon, Walmart store manager. “As we move forward
with our reopening, we do so in a way that honors the victims and provides continued support
to our associates.”
The new “store-of-the-future” remodel for the location will include expanded shopping options, engaging displays, interactive features, and more.
During the opening ceremony, Chesapeake Mayor Rick West made remarks, as well as Walmart corporate members. One corporate supervisor was in tears as he named the six victims who lost their lives.
“I know they would be happy and I know they are looking at us right now,” he said.
The father of the youngest shooting victim, Fernando Jesus Chavez Barron, was at the ceremony. 10 On Your Side’s cameras were rolling as he approached a corporate Walmart employee to express his anger about the celebratory tone of the ceremony.
An attorney for the family tells 10 On Your Side the family believed there would be some kind of memorial service for those who lost their lives in the shooting. Instead, he was upset that today’s reopening did not focus on those who were killed.
The store manager told 10 On Your Side that the reopening is part of a “healing journey.”
10 On Your Side received a statement from the lawyer of Randall Blevins’ family, who was one of the victims that were killed, about how the family is not happy about the reopening:
Walmart’s grand plan to reopen the store with fanfare hurts them deeply as it is quite hypocritical given Walmart’s position abandoning the families of those killed and hurt.Statement from the Belvins’ Family Lawyer
The Blevins family has filed a multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart and the estate of the shooter.
In response, a Walmart spokesperson told 10 On Your Side: “Throughout this process, Walmart has worked to treat all those impacted with respect and dignity. Our hearts continue to go out to the families of the victims.”
Walmart says about 60% of the staff who was working at the store before the shooting have returned.
“We know it was a lot but we’re really excited that we got everyone to come on back,” said Mixon.
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.