After being closed for almost a month following a mass shooting on the premises, Allen Premium Outlets reopened for business on Wednesday.
The Dallas Express was on hand when the shopping center officially opened at 10 a.m. on May 31. As workers began removing the barriers blocking access to the center, a steady stream of shoppers started flowing into the area.
Dan and Ruby Scott came for the reopening, telling The Dallas Express they typically visit the shopping center once a month and feel safe returning to the mall. The Scotts said the heightened presence of law enforcement helped them to feel comfortable while shopping.
“We figure the odds of that happening twice are … better against it than it happening anywhere else,” said Dan Scott, referring to the events of May 6, when a heavily-armed gunman entered the shopping center and randomly fired on shoppers, killing eight and wounding seven others before he was shot and killed by an Allen police officer.
Alf Gonzalez, the owner of Fatburger, said he was glad to have his business open again.
“We’re all talking today, and we’re just like, it’s mixed emotions,” said Gonzalez. “It’s not like there’s no excitement or anything like that, but there are heavy hearts,” he continued.
While Gonzalez was not at the mall at the time of the May 6 shooting, his stepdaughter and other employees were, and they took steps to help customers to safety. He expressed appreciation for the support he and other staff members received from the community and local businesses.
Marcus Kergosien, the manager of Zwilling, a kitchen supply store, seemed ready to talk about what happened the day of the shooting. He told The Dallas Express that his store’s security cameras captured the shooter gunning down Elio Cumana-Rivas, one of the eight victims who died in the mass shooting. Cumana-Rivas had visited the shopping center to purchase a gift for his young daughter, who had an upcoming birthday.
“He’s running, he gets shot in his back right where he’s standing, he falls to the ground, said Kergosien. “A few seconds later, he gets up, turns around, … looks at the shooter, raises his hands as if to plead for his life, and then he’s shot a second time.”
Kergosien said he was grateful that law enforcement was able to neutralize the shooter so quickly. He said that, based on the direction the shooter was heading, he and his employees would have likely encountered him during his rampage if police had not killed him.
Kergosien believes his previous experience at the World Trade Center on 9-11 helped him to cope with this most recent tragedy.
“I was at the World Trade Center, and there was a lot of death around me. I almost died. A New York firefighter did die and saved my life and that gave me some strength,” said Kergosien. “I just remained very calm and methodical and just observant of law enforcement and so forth.”
The reopening of the Allen Premium Outlets could be seen as a step toward healing for a community still grieving the lives lost and the lives forever changed by the events of May 6.
While most of the 120 stores at the shopping center reopened Wednesday, a few remained closed, including Official Pro Shop and Lids. H&M, located close to where the shooting began, also remained closed. A sign posted inside the store said it would reopen on June 12.