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What's next? Businesses close to the Chesapeake Walmart reflect on impact to local community

A statement from a Walmart spokesperson does not indicate any time frame of the store returning to normal operations.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — It’s the story they can’t avoid, even at work. 

“People still talk about it a little bit. When they come on in," Aida Stephenson says. 

The still-taped off parking lot next to North Battlefield Boulevard reminds Chesapeake businesses how physically close they are to last week’s tragedy where a Walmart team leader opened fire and killed six coworkers days before Thanksgiving. The City of Chesapeake has since identified those six victims, the youngest among them a 16-year-old boy.

Investigators with the FBI and Chesapeake police finished their crime scene investigation over the weekend, with no immediate plans yet on how long the Walmart will remain temporarily closed.

13News Now received a previously-used statement from a Walmart spokesperson, when asked about whether the company had any updated plans to reopen the store.

We’ll continue focusing our attention on offering support to our associates, families and loved ones in every way possible. We will work very closely with our associates and rely on their input to determine the best time to reopen the store.

“The first thing in your mind is, where did it happen? You can’t even shop in peace because you’re thinking where did it happen, and here is the breakroom," Takisha Stieff said, owner of Shear Dazzle Salon, who's storefront overlooks the parking lot complex which includes the Walmart. 

She believes a return without a major change to the building would be premature.

“Honestly with them reopening, I don’t see anyone being comfortable right now. Even if it’s at a later date, it’ll just be an uncomfortable experience," she said. 

Stephenson, who owns a Style Encore franchise off of Sam's Circle, said she believes it would be helpful to reopen when they can, as to not let the moment of violence "impact our regular lives and move in a positive direction."

“Maybe together, they [the employees] can console each other, if they were working together again. But again, it must be hard going back, especially that breakroom," she added.

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