Walmart to revamp, reopen El Paso store after mass shooting

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Walmart plans to reopen the El Paso store where 22 people were killed in a mass shooting earlier this month, the retail giant said Thursday, but the entire interior of the building will first be rebuilt.

The renovated store will include an on-site memorial honoring the victims of the shooting, many of whom were Latino, and recognizing the "binational relationship between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez" just across the border in Mexico, Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said. The project is expected to take three to four months.

Nearly all of the 400 employees at the El Paso store have been reassigned to other nearby locations, Hargrove said, and the Arkansas-based company believes reopening the store is "an important step in healing from this tragedy."

"Nothing will erase the pain of Aug. 3 and we're hopeful that reopening the store will be another testament to the strength and resiliency that has characterized the El Paso community in the wake of this tragedy," Hargrove said.

RELATED: Here's a look back at the community memorial after the Walmart mass shooting: 

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El Paso shooting: Community, family, friends mourn the victims
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El Paso shooting: Community, family, friends mourn the victims
Mariana Cordero cries as she visits a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A man hangs up an "El Paso Strong" sign at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A woman cries as she visits a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A woman leans over to write a message on a cross at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People crowd around a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A woman is reflected in a picture as she looks at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. Saturday's mass shooting at the Walmart left multiple people dead and more than two dozen others injured. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People visit a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
En esta imagen tomada de un video en abril de 2019, migrantes se entregan a agentes fronterizos en El Paso, Texas, después de cruzar hacia territorio estadounidense desde México. (AP Foto/Cedar Attanasio)
Flags fly over crosses at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. The border city jolted by a weekend massacre at a Walmart absorbed more grief Monday as the death toll climbed and prepared for a visit from President Donald Trump over anger from El Paso residents and local Democratic leaders who say he isn't welcome and should stay away. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People visit a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Gloria Garces se arrodilla el martes 6 de agosto de 2019 en un memorial ubicado cerca de la escena de un tiroteo en un centro comercial de El Paso, Texas. (AP Foto/John Locher)
People visit a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People visit a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Catalina Saenz wipes tears from her face as she visits a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. A list of the people who died in the weekend shooting rampage at the Walmart, shows that most of the victims had Latino surnames and included one German national. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A woman leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Gloria Garces kneels in front of crosses at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Rene Aguilar and Jackie Flores pray at a makeshift memorial for the victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a shopping complex in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
Catalina Saenz wipes tears from her face as she visits a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People crowd around a makeshift memorial near the site of a mass shooting over the weekend at a shopping complex, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of a mass shooting at a shopping complex over the weekend, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A man cries beside a cross at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. The border city jolted by a weekend massacre at a Walmart absorbed more grief Monday as the death toll climbed and prepared for a visit from President Donald Trump over anger from El Paso residents and local Democratic leaders who say he isn't welcome and should stay away. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A man cries beside a cross at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. The border city jolted by a weekend massacre at a Walmart absorbed more grief Monday as the death toll climbed and prepared for a visit from President Donald Trump over anger from El Paso residents and local Democratic leaders who say he isn't welcome and should stay away. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of a mass shooting over the weekend, at a shopping complex, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of a mass shooting over the weekend, at a shopping complex, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of a mass shooting over the weekend at a shopping complex, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Angie Attaguile rests her head on her husband, Ray Attaguile's shoulder as they embrace their children during a candlelight vigil for victims of a mass shooting over the weekend at a shopping complex, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Personas visitan un altar improvisado el lunes 5 de agosto de 2019, en el lugar de una masacre en un centro comercial de El Paso, Texas. (AP Foto/John Locher)
Members of the Americas High School football team visit the site of a mass shooting over the weekend, at a shopping complex, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. The team visited to hang a banner that reads "El Paso Strong." (AP Photo/John Locher)
Members of the Americas High School football team from El Paso huddle around, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, as they visit the site of a mass shooting over the weekend at a shopping complex, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Christina Pipkin cries as she visits a makeshift memorial, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, at the site of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, in El Paso, Texas. "It's hard to see it, it's heartbreaking," said Pipkin about visiting the memorial. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Members of the Americas High School football team from El Paso carry an "El Paso Strong" sign into place near the site of a mass shooting over the weekend at a shopping complex, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Members of the Americas High School football team from El Paso carry an "El Paso Strong" sign into place near the site of a mass shooting over the weekend at a shopping complex, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Mayte Santiesteban visits a cross dedicated to her best friend's aunt, who was killed in the weekend shooting, at a makeshift memorial at the site of the mass shooting at a shopping complex, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Daphne Rosas, a former sixth grade student of teacher Elsa Mendoza de la Mora, one of the victims of the shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, shows her class photo with Mendoza in the center, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. Mexico’s government said it considers the shooting that left eight of its citizens dead an “act of terrorism” against Mexicans and hopes it will lead to changes in U.S. gun laws. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
Personas oran frente a un altar improvisado en honor a las víctimas de una masacre en un centro comercial de El Paso, Texas, el lunes 5 de agosto de 2019. (AP Foto/John Locher)
Greg Zanis prepares crosses to place at a makeshift memorial for victims of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Maylin Reyes, right, and Isela Reyes prepare to hang a Mexican flag at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Rene Aguilar y Jackie Flores rezan en un memorial para las víctimas de un tiroteo en El Paso, Texas, el domingo 4 de agosto de 2019. (AP Foto/Andres Leighton)
Greg Zanis prepares crosses to place at a makeshift memorial for victims of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People comfort each other during a vigil for victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Cathe Hill wipes tears from her eyes during a vigil for victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. "There's no such thing as a stranger here in El Paso," said Hill about the impact the shooting had on the community. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Children of a youth sports community participate in a vigil for the victims of Saturday's mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
Unas flores y una imagen de la Virgen de Guadalupe adornan un monumento conmemorativo improvisado en honor de las víctimas de un tiroteo en un centro comercial en El Paso, Texas, el domingo 4 de agosto de 2019. El letrero dice: "El Paso es una familia. Permanecemos unidos". (AP Foto/Andrés Leighton)
A man leaves flowers near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Someone left a couple of signs outside Del Sol Medical Center after a mass shooting occurred at Walmart early Saturday in El Paso, TX on Sunday, August 4, 2019. (Lola Gomez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Carmen Roldan brings some flowers to honor the memory of the victims of the mass shooting occurred in Walmart on Saturday morning in El Paso on Sunday, August 4, 2019. (Lola Gomez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Jessica Luna hugs her son Julien Lucero, 6, while both of them cry during a vigil at Ponder Park in honor to the victims of a mass shooting occurred in Walmart on Saturday morning in El Paso on Sunday, August 4, 2019. (Lola Gomez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Family members hug to each other outside the family reunification center at MacArthur Elementary-Intermediate School in El Paso, Texas on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (Lola Gomez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Amanda Beltran holds her cell phone flashlights up as she wipes her tears away during a vigil Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, at Ponder Park in honor of the victims of the mass shooting that occurred in Walmart on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (Lola Gomez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
People march in silence holding sunflowers and sings in honor to the victims of a mass shooting occurred in Walmart on Satuday morning in El Paso on Sunday, August 4, 2019. (Lola Gomez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
CORRECTS NUMBER OF PEOPLE KILLED TO MORE THAN 20 - Muralist Manuel Oliver, whose son was killed in the Parkland Florida shooting, at center in red, is flanked by his wife and daughter, left, in black, and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, right in blue, during an unveiling ceremony for Oliver's mural, in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. The mural, which advocates for humane treatment of immigrants, became a memorial after more than 20 people were killed on Saturday in an attack that officials are investigating as a hate crime. O'Rourke is holding a sunflower as a symbolic gesture to Oliver's son, who is said to have carried sunflowers the day he died. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke walks next to his wife Amy Hoover Sanders and Rep. Veronica Escobar Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, during a silent march holding sunflowers in honor to the victims of a mass shooting occurred in Walmart on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (Lola Gomez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Houston Astros players bow their heads during a moment of silence in remembrance of the the mass shooting victims in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio before a baseball game Sunday, August 4, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Three-year-old Andrew Malagon observes a makeshift memorial for the victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a shopping complex in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
Employees of Walmart cry as they attend a vigil for victims of Saturday's mass shooting who were killed at the store inside a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A Virgin Mary painting, flags and flowers adorn a makeshift memorial for the victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a shopping complex in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
Clockwise from left, Gabriela Lopez and her husband Roberto Lopez comfort their children Santi Lopez and Max Lopez during a vigil for victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People raise their arms in the air during a vigil for victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Lupe Lopez holds a picture of a victim during a vigil for victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People pray during a vigil for victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People attend a vigil for victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Members of a youth sports community participate in a vigil for the victims of Saturday's mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
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Flowers, crosses and handwritten messages now adorn a makeshift memorial outside one of the store's entrances. Hundreds of residents have visited in the wake of the shooting, where social workers hand out bottled water and offer counseling services.

"If we close it, they win," said Laura Lopez, 59, who brought her gardening gloves from home to help clear dead flowers from the memorial site Thursday. "Life goes on and you've got to go on."

Many shoppers from Ciudad Juarez went there because it is the closest Walmart to the four border bridges that connect to El Paso. Eight of the people killed in the shooting were Mexican citizens. The vast majority had Hispanic names.

Authorities took more than 10 days to finish processing evidence before returning control of the property to Walmart. It was less time than officials initially anticipated given the scope of the carnage, plus the size of the crime scene where police said up to 3,000 shoppers had gathered. The FBI has returned most of the 230 vehicles that had been in limbo behind crime scene tape for days after the attack.

"It was very meticulous work and certainly not rushed, but working around the clock with our counterparts in the FBI, investigators were able to complete the task sooner than initially anticipated," El Paso Police Department spokesman Enrique Carrillo.

Police said the suspected gunman, Patrick Crusius, confessed to targeting Mexicans in the attack. They've also said that the suspected shooter is the likely author of an anti-Latino screed published shortly before the shooting. It criticized race-mixing and called Hispanics "invaders."

Police are still preparing their investigation for the local prosecutor, Jaime Esparza, who has said he will seek the death penalty. The Department of Justice has said it will bring federal capital murder charges, and is investigating the shooting as domestic terrorism .

Crusius has been on a suicide watch in an El Paso jail since Aug. 7, according to El Paso County Sheriff's office spokeswoman Chris Acosta. Crusius has been separated from other inmates, Acosta said Wednesday.

In the days after the shooting, Hargrove said the company was reviewing security protocols. Walmart launched computer-based active shooter training in 2015 and has since increased frequency of its instruction and added a virtual reality component .

The El Paso City Council has been researching the possibility of requiring armed security guards for large stores, and of requiring certain additional security features at store entrances.

"People are not picking on Walmart in particular but, they used to have off-duty officers hired there all the time. And then for some reason, it went away," police chief Greg Allen told city council members in an Aug. 8 briefing.

A police spokesman declined to elaborate on the chief's comments and referred questions to Walmart.

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Bleed reported from Little Rock, Arkansas.

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