After Deadly Police Shootout, Silver Lake Trader Joe's Opens Doors Again: 'Things Will Never Be The Same'

A sign outside the Trader Joe's in Silver Lake announces the store's reopening on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. (Photo by Aaron Mendelson/LAist)

By Aaron Mendelson and Brian Frank

It has been 12 days since a shootout at a Trader Joe's in Silver Lake left the store's manager dead, and the signs of that tragedy are all around: in the colorful public memorial out front; in the t-shirts and pins worn by employees commemorating the life of 27-year-old Melyda Corado; and in the billboard from Trader Joe's thanking the community for its support.

But things started to get back to normal at the grocery store on Hyperion Avenue, which opened its doors to the public Thursday morning for the first time since the shooting.

As store employees prepared to reopen, Trader Joe's executive Ben Myers delivered a short statement.

"Today is a bittersweet day for the Trader Joe's family. While we remain heartbroken over the loss of Melyda Corado and the tragedy that occured here almost 2 weeks ago, we recognize that moving forward is important to support the healing of our crew and this community."

In recent days, the company installed new flooring and registers at the store, though the space looks much the same as it did before. Trader Joe's also purchased both sides of a billboard on Hyperion Avenue. On one side, the company delivers a message thanking the neighborhood for their support. On the other: the words "Silver Lake Always" against a tie-dye background.

Several employees were wearing shirts with the same design and message. A spokeswoman told KPCC that employees from Trader Joe's stores across the area were working at the reopened store today.

LAPD officers and private security were present as the store opened its doors for the first time since July 21.

The store reopened without ceremony, a few minutes before scheduled at 8 AM. A handful of customers were on hand, including Michael Abel, who lives up the street. Abel was buying eggs, but couldn't shake the memory of what happened 12 days ago.

"I was here the day that it happened. Had I been like five minutes earlier, I would have been right in the thick of it. So I'm fortunate," he said.

Pila Boyd was also picking up groceries Thursday morning. He had spotted a change in the desk where managers work, and was relieved he no longer had to trek all the way to Hollywood and Vine to shop at his favored grocery chain.

Still, the shooting was on his mind. "Things will never be the same in the neighborhood. I think we've always felt insulated, that these things don't happen here. But you know, they happen anywhere."

Boyd and other customers said they were happy to see the store open again.

Customers begin returning to the Trader Joe's on Hyperion Avenue in Silver Lake, which reopened Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. The grocery store closed last month after a police shootout in which LAPD officers fired at a pursuit suspect entering the store, but hit store manager Melyda Corado, killing her. (Photo by Aaron Mendelson/LAist)

Employees were busy at work well before the store opened. Many where wearing a pin in remembrance of Melyda Corado, with her nickname 'Mely'. A memorial to Corado remains outside the store.

A public funeral service for Corado was held Sunday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills. The Los Angeles Police Department said it was an officer's bullet that killed her. Corado was one of two people killed by accident by the LAPD during police shootings this summer.

The officers who fired toward the busy store have been identified as Sinlen Tse and Sarah Winans, who have been on the force for six years and a little under two years, respectively. The LAPD chief, the civilian Board of Police Commissioners and the L.A. County District Attorney's office will be reviewing the investigation into whether the use of deadly force was appropriate and in policy.

The gunman, identified as 28-year-old Gene Atkins, was arrested on suspicion of murder for his role in the incident.

UPDATE:

12:28 p.m.: This article updated with a new top.

11:48 a.m.: This story updated throughout with reporting from the opening in Silver Lake.

This article was originally published at 6 a.m.

Do you have questions you want answered? Leave them below.


News happens every day. Here at LAist, our goal is to cover the stories that matter to you and the community you live in. Now that we're part of KPCC, those stories (including this one you're on right now!) are made possible by generous people like you. Independent, local journalism isn't cheap, but with your support we can keep delivering it. Donate now.