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'It's hard to walk through': Buffalo Tops reopens to public two months after mass shooting

Shoppers enter Tops market on Jefferson Ave. in Buffalo on Friday, 7/15/22
Thomas O'Neil-White
Shoppers enter Tops market on Jefferson Ave. in Buffalo on Friday, 7/15/22

Shoppers re-entered the Tops Market on Buffalo's east side Friday for the first time since the mass shooting in May claimed the lives of 10 and wounded three more.

Outside the store, neighborhood residents expressed mixed feelings about the reopening.

Solar Ingram, who brands herself as the “Community’s Daughter” said it was difficult to step back inside.

“It's hard to walk through Tops,” she said. “I've done several trauma walks just to get myself and other people through.”

Others, like Kamau Fields, expressed some displeasure with the reopening.

“It bothers me that they didn't have the community participate in the rehab,” he said of the interior and exterior renovations done to the store. “There are a lot of people who are sitting here who are not working, who could have done some of the landscaping, who could have done some of the work. And I think all of the land here needs to be more moratorium on the use of the land. It needs to be eminent domain until the community gets a chance to speak and see how this should be developed. There are developers who are buying up or have bought up this land and we're going to profiteer off of the misery of the people. So that should be stopped. [There] should be a moratorium on any sort of development until the community has had a chance to really understand and feel what has happened here. And what's going to happen beyond this point.

Ingram said this is a time to build outwards.

“The question becomes can we spend 180 days just like that hate crime deliverer, wrote 180-page manifesto,” she said. “Can we spend 180 days bridging all of those resources that popped out of nowhere together so that they can continue because this trauma is not going to be over by tomorrow. The affects and effects of what has happened to our community has leaked into our schools. It leaked into politics and leaked into every aspect of our community.”

Ingram hopes the flush of money coming into Buffalo’s East Side is put to good use in the community and not just for self-gain. This includes $58 million from the New York State, the 5/14 Survivors Fund and the Buffalo Together Fund.

Copyright 2022 WBFO

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.