By Dillon Thomas
THORNTON, Colo. (CBS4) – Less than one week after a gunman entered a Walmart in Thornton, killing three innocent people, the store reopened to the public.
Customers were allowed in the Walmart for regular business in the morning on Saturday.
On its first day back in business, Walmart had extra staff on-hand, and Thornton Police had two vehicles parked at each main entrance to the store.
Walmart also set up two different security camera pods in the parking lot, which added surveillance.
While many customers inside the store were shopping, some stopped outside the building to pay their respects to the deceased, and to write letters to survivors.
“We are a unified group in this community,” said Linda Michalak.
Michalak was with a group from a local church, whom spent their day praying on the property.
“Talking to some employees here, one lady in particular thought it was a healing process by them opening up,” said Pat Barton, one of the church members. “People need to know there is a God, and He is bigger than what happened here.”
While some held hands in prayer in front of the building, others chose to walk the aisles of the store to do the same.
“My wife and I walked around the building, just to bless the place,” said Bruce Michalak, a church member.
Others not with the church spent time writing letters to Walmart staff and the families of the deceased to spread support and encouragement.
The letters were placed on boards. A Walmart corporate spokesperson told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas a store manager would later accept the letters on behalf of the staff and would appropriately spread the encouragement where needed.
“[The volunteer who organized the letters] wants to take the notes, and give them to the employees. Something they can take home,” said Tom Smedley, a church member.
Some told CBS4 they felt the general public could use the reopening of the store as a way to come together.
“I just felt like there would be a lot of hearts that are hurting. What better way than to go in and start praying with them?” Barton said. “[We wanted] to let them know people do care, and what [the gunman] did is stupid. But, we care about what happens in our community. Thornton is strong, and we are going to bounce back.”
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.