“It’s important that we’re open for the local people. We’re a staple for people down here, and they need normalcy,” he said. “One guy is not going to shut down a city.”
In the hours that followed, members of the community brought flowers, candles and handwritten cards to the front of Ned Peppers, forming a memorial to those who had died near the bar.
Annette Gibson-Strong said she heard the bars on East Fifth Street planned to open on Monday. She came to move the memorials that had popped up along the street. She wanted to make sure nothing was thrown away.
Tears streaming down her cheeks, she painstakingly moved each item that had been laid in front of the door at Ned Peppers and Hole in the Wall bar next door.
>> MORE: What we’ve learned about the victims
“It was hard, but it had to be done,” Gibson-Strong said. “These babies ain’t even in the ground yet. They need to be remembered for how they was. They were somebody.”
Gibson-Strong said she lost her own son to homicide 27 years ago, so the deaths on Sunday morning hit close to home.
“People always say they know what you’re going through,” Gibson-Strong said. “They don’t. They can’t.”
Gibson-Strong said that if it weren’t for the staff at Ned Peppers, the situation could have been a lot worse.
“It would have been a massacre,” Gibson-Strong said.
The manager at Ned Peppers said his employees were performing CPR and first aid on victims immediately after the shooting started.
The staff is trained on crisis situations, he said, and their swift action was needed.