‘It means a lot to get back in here’ – Emotional Day as Workers, Shoppers Return to Weis

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EATON TOWNSHIP – There were lots hugs and tears from Weis Market employees as their store reopened Thursday, five weeks after a tragedy inside.

Shoppers have jammed the store all day showing support for the supermarket where three employees lost their lives at the hands of another.

Newswatch 16 talked to many people who say they came to support the store as the community continues on its path to healing.

"It was very emotional because I live just up the road and I had shopped here that day and it happened that night," said Diane Pencek. "Just felt bad, terrible for the families."

A store employee shot and killed three co-workers then took his own life back in June.

The time since the shooting has been a healing period for the entire community and the store.

The place has been remodeled.

"It's looking better than ever right now," said Pencek.

"Here are some of the things we did: there's all new décor in here. We painted everything. There are new cases. We renovated the restrooms as well. If you've been coming here, when you come in, you'll see a different store. We also replaced all of the products," explained Weis Markets spokesman Dennis Curtin.

Outside the store, there was a full parking lot. Customers were in and out of the store throughout the day.

Angelo Maruzzelli works at Antonio's Pizza next door.

"It's arguably more full than normal," Maruzzelli said. "It's good to see a lot of traffic through here. A lot of regulars are back doing their thing going to the grocery store, picking up a pie."

Maruzzelli, like so many others, says they are thankful to see Weis and the community bounce back.

"We expected it to be exactly like this. I knew everyone would be in support of Weis and in support of the community and wanting to come out and wanting to see the new store and wanted to just be a part of it," Maruzzelli said.

"That has been the touching thing, the response from our associates but also the community, Tunkhannock, Fleetville, all of the little towns around here," said Curtin.

Nicole Johnson and dozens of other employees returned to work at the store.

"We're a big family here," said Johnson. "For all of us, it means a lot to get back in here and get back to the grind. We were placed in different stores when we were closed, working, but to be back to the grind, it's great!"

And as the employees headed back to work, they had countless community members behind them.

"We want to be there to support the employees that are going to be opening. It's going to be very difficult for them as well as the families," said K-Ann Strohl of Lake Winola.

Strohl says it was time for the store to reopen after the tragedy on June 8.

"What's too soon? Everything has its own timeline so, this was the time to open now."

Not only are community members supportive of the fact that the Weis supermarket reopened, so are businesses in downtown Tunkhannock.

Downtown Deli employee Tammy McCormick used to work at Weis and so did her mother. She plans to drop by to say hello to her old coworkers.

"I'm glad they reopened it and kept it in the same location. I'm going tomorrow to go and see everybody."

Employees are thankful for the well-wishes on their first day back and every day since the deadly shooting.

"The outpouring of support, the support that they showed us, you can tell that this is a small town family. That's all I can say about the community. Family!" said Johnson.

Much of the store has been remodeled since the shooting.


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