After more than two weeks of calm, the Safeway in East Bend reopened to the public on Wednesday.
Shoppers outside could be seen grabbing their reusable bags or unloading stacks of groceries into their cars. They were among the building’s first buyers since a gunman entered the store in August and killed two people before killing himself.
Inside the store, the company appears to have made several changes: the shelves were fully stocked, the pharmacy had been rebuilt, and there had been a fresh coat of paint. A security guard, wearing a bulletproof vest, stood outside.
Jennifer Clark said it was nerve-wracking to return to the store for her and her young daughter.
“She was really terrified,” Clark said. “She kind of thinks there are dead people floating around.”
The 20-year-old shooter legally purchased his weapons – an AR-15 rifle and two shotguns – and had posted suicidal messages online before the shooting. According to an affidavit, multiple people told authorities that he had posted several blog posts about the planned shooting.
Police found the shooter dead inside the store, after killing Glenn Bennett and Safeway employee Donald Surrett Jr.
On Wednesday, most shoppers said they were happy to be back at the store and that it had felt strange not being able to go for weeks.
Christian Heeb, a 26-year-old Bend resident from Switzerland, was leaving the Safeway and said he thought such shootings had become too common in the United States.
“Wherever you’re going, you kind of have to look out and see if there’s a shooter,” Heeb said. “Next time it will be somewhere else.”
Bend City Council plans to hold a business meeting Sept. 21 to discuss what the city can do to strengthen gun restrictions locally.
Clark said the presence of a security guard made her feel safer, and she recommends other locals support the store. She did, however, acknowledge that the store and the community felt changed.
“It’s hard to believe this happened,” she said of the shooting. “I’ve been (in Bend) since I was 10 and it’s different.”