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Bend Safeway reopens to public following deadly shooting

The Safeway grocery in Bend, Ore., pictured Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, a day after the shooting. The store has now reopened to the public, with several renovations.
Bradley W. Parks
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The Safeway grocery in Bend, Ore., pictured Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, a day after the shooting. The store has now reopened to the public, with several renovations.

After more than two weeks of quiet, the Safeway in East Bend reopened to the public Wednesday.

Shoppers outside could be seen grabbing their reusable bags or unloading piles of groceries into their cars. They were some of the first shoppers in the building since a gunman ran into the store in August and killed two people before taking his own life.

Inside the store, the company appeared to have made several alterations: Shelves were completely stocked, the pharmacy had been rebuilt and there had been a fresh coat of paint. A security guard, donning a bulletproof vest, stood outside.

Jennifer Clark said it was nerve wracking returning to the store for both her and her young daughter.

“She was really terrified,” Clark said. “She kind of thinks there’s dead people floating around.”

The 20-year-old gunman legally purchased his weapons — an AR-15 rifle and two shotguns — and had posted suicidal messages online before the shooting. Multiple people told authorities that he had made several blog posts about the planned shooting, according to an affidavit.

Police found the gunman dead inside the store, after he had killed Glenn Bennett and Safeway employee Donald Surrett Jr.

Most shoppers Wednesday said they were glad to be back at the store and that it had felt strange not being able to go there for weeks.

Christian Heeb, a 26-year Bend resident originally from Switzerland, was leaving the Safeway and said he thought such shootings had become all too common in the U.S.

“Wherever you walk in, you have to kind of look out and see if there’s no shooter,” Heeb said. “Next time, it’ll be in another place.”

The Bend City Council plans to hold a work session Sept. 21 to discuss what the city can do to toughen firearm restrictions locally.

Clark said the presence of a security guard made her feel safer and that she recommends other locals support the store. She acknowledged, however, that the store, and the community, feels changed.

“It’s hard to believe it happened,” she said of the shooting. “I’ve been (in Bend) since I was 10 and it’s different.”

Copyright 2022 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Joni Land