Photo by Jacqueline Fernandez

Silver Lake — Customers and workers returned to the Trader Joe’s on Hyperion Avenue today, nearly two weeks after store manager Melyda (Mely) Corado was killed by a police officer’s bullet during a gunbattle with a shooting suspect.

“It was very emotional,” said Levi Petree, after walking to the market. “I’m a little choked up, and you get the chills going in there …. I just wanted to come out this morning and show support to them.”

Petree was one of the customers that trickled back into the store after the glass doors opened exactly at 8 a.m.  Two security guards stood in the parking lot while reporters conducted interviews near an outdoor display of watermelons and a store sign that read “We missed you.”

Customers who arrived found a store that underwent some renovations, including new flooring, while it was closed. Outside, on a billboard in the parking lot, a message from the company said:“We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity shown to us by our customers, our neighbors, our friends. We are grateful for this community and all of your support.”

The other side of the billboard matches the tie dye t-shirts some of the employees wore saying, “Silver Lake Always.”

The store has been closed since July 21, when a Toyota Camry being driven by 28-year-old Gene Atkins crashed in front of the store while he was being chased by police. The armed man proceeded to exchange fire with police and ran into the store. Corado, 27, who was shot near the entrance of the store, went back into the market and collapsed by the manager’s station, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Atkins surrendered after about 40 people were trapped or held hostage in the store for three hours.

Jody Muncian, who lives down the street from the store, had never interacted with Corado but had seen her at the store.

“I just wanted to go in do my shopping and go back to normal,” said Muncian, who shops at the store a couple of times a week. “It was so sad and random, it’s so hard to believe it would happen in this neighborhood.”

The store’s employees, who were given tags  with Corado’s name, received their wages during the store’s closure in addition to counseling services. Workers were also given the option of not coming back to the Silver Lake store if they weren’t ready or of being transferred to a different location, said Kenya Friend-Daniel, spokeswoman for Trader Joe’s.

“For the most part, all of them have said that they want to stay here and be part of this community,” she said.

Photo by Jacqueline Fernandez

Photo by Jacqueline Fernandez

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