PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Clackamas Town Center shopping mall reopened Friday, three days after a gunman killed two people and wounded a third amid a holiday crowd estimated at 10,000 people.
Among the shoppers gathered for the morning opening was 84-year-old Marion Hango of Clackamas, who said she wanted to be there to support the workers.
“I’ve been thinking about it for several days, just like everybody else,” she said. “But I felt it was necessary, not just for me, but for everybody else, the people who work here.”
The mall was closed Wednesday and Thursday as officers worked on their investigation and contractors repaired damage.
The shooter, Jacob Tyler Roberts, killed himself after the attack Tuesday afternoon, authorities have said.
Security precautions were intensified for the reopening, the Clackamas County sheriff’s office said.
“We came in today, but we’re still looking around to see if something is happening,” said Alejandro Hernandez, who works in the food court, the scene of the rampage. “It’s no good.”
At a news conference before the reopening, the mall’s general manager, Dennis Curtis, declined to estimate how much the closure had cost in lost sales. Many retailers depend on holiday shopping for roughly 40 percent of their annual revenue.
“It’s really hard at this time to focus on profits and sales,” he said.
Steve Foltz, who owns the Cinnabon and Jamba Juice franchises in the food court, said he gets chills talking about the quick-thinking his employees displayed during the crisis. They hit the floor, crawled to the backroom and turned off the ringers on cellphones, he said.
Foltz said it’s important to reopen because his workers need money to buy Christmas presents and pay their rent and bills. Though the two-day shutdown will likely affect his bottom line, Foltz recalled that businesses survived a snowstorm that closed the mall a few years ago.
“If business was easy, everybody would do it,” he said. “And it’s not. We just have to deal with it.”
There were few obvious signs that a shooting occurred days earlier. At one point, three young women entered the mall and stood frozen for several seconds. One of the young women, who declined to be interviewed, started crying as her two friends consoled her. The tears dried, and the women headed to the stores.
Words of support — written on silver and red stars — have been placed on the glass railing that surrounds the center of the mall court. Customers are encouraged to add messages to the display, which will remain through the holiday season. One of the stars reads: “Forever in our hearts.” Another says: “12-11-12 never forget.”
One customer who wanted to remember the victims and help the workers is Jaimee Nash of Portland. She doesn’t usually shop at Clackamas Town Center, but she did so on Friday.
“I decided that today would be the best day to show my support, letting everyone know that we can’t let the mad men get us down,” Nash said. “I hope the mall has a great day.”
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