EL PASO, TX – About 50 shoppers lined up early Thursday ahead of the reopening of a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that had been closed since August, when a gunman police say was targeting Mexicans opened fire in the store and killed 22 people.
On the day of the attack, Walmart didn’t have a security guard on duty. But as the doors opened to the public for the first time in three months and shoppers streamed into the renovated space, they passed dozens of sheriff's deputies, security guards and store employees. Workers greeted customers with cheers of “Welcome back to Walmart!”
Walmart has quietly hired off-duty officers at its stores in El Paso, Texas, since Aug. 3, when police say Patrick Crusius drove more than 10 hours from his grandparents' house in a Dallas suburb to carry out the attack. Crusius, 21, pleaded not guilty.
More than 3,000 people from largely Latino El Paso and neighboring Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, were at the store when the attack happened.
Among the visitors to the reopened store was Eddie Medina, who walked out carrying a frozen turkey and wearing a T-shirt in honor of his wife, Cecy Medina, a Walmart employee who survived the shooting while working in the women’s clothing section.
The shirt reads: “My wife is a cancer survivor and a Walmart survivor. She is El Paso Strong.”
Medina, 62, said recent months have been difficult for his wife; her yearlong fight with cancer ended in May, but was followed by her mother’s death and then the shooting. She’s been seeing a psychiatrist paid for by Walmart, but she’s still too traumatized to return to the scene of the crime.
“I told her ‘I'm going to go in your place,’" the husband said. "I just retired last month so I could stay home and take care of her.”