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The gunmen took his brother, cousin and one of his customers.
But Faysal Warfa won't let them take his store.
After scrubbing and restocking, the 42-year-old Somali businessman plans to reopen his grocery Wednesday afternoon at the corner of E. Franklin and 25th Avenue S. The reopening will come a week after the gruesome shooting, which bloodied his market, shocked a city and claimed the lives of three East African immigrants.
His heart will be heavy, but he hopes business will be brisk.
"It's a way to encourage local businesses and the community to not let this tragedy stop us from doing business, and to encourage family members to not let the criminals win," Warfa said Tuesday, as authorities considered whether to charge two 17-year-old boys in connection with the killings.
It's also a way, Warfa and relatives said, to start healing.
"No one can stop the will of Allah," said Abdi Mohamed, a cousin of Warfa's and one of eight relatives cleaning the store Tuesday. "Part of Muslim culture and Muslim belief is that part of the healing process is realizing that everything happens for a reason, even if the consequences are not something you like. As a family, we lost lives. But we are hoping something good can come out of this."
As a young immigrant from war-torn Somalia 14 years ago, Faysal Warfa dreamed of someday opening his own grocery.
Three years ago, in the heart of the Seward neighborhood in south Minneapolis, the dream came true when he became owner of the Seward Market and Halal Meats. The store has become a popular stop for longtime Seward residents and hundreds of East African neighbors who live in a high-rise across the street.
But nobody figured on the events of Jan. 6, when intruders entered the store and lit it up with gunfire.
Killed were Warfa's brother, Abdifatah Warfa, 28, who was working the front counter, his cousin Mohamed Warfa, 30, who had stopped to bring Abdifatah some tea, and customer Anwar Mohammed, 31. The Warfas are Somali. Mohammed, who was recently married and planned to bring his wife to Minnesota from Ethiopia, was Oromo.
Within days, police arrested the two teens. Investigators have said little about the shootings or the suspected motive. Warfa, too, says he knows little about what happened that night.
But he says he believes the shootings might somehow be connected to a Nov. 22 burglary of the store's upstairs office.
Cleaning and stocking
This afternoon's planned reopening comes after several days of heavy scrubbing and vacuuming.
For several days after the shootings, a large pool of blood could be seen on the floor beneath the cash register. Blood also stained the front windows and door. The aisles were a mess, too, with crackers and snacks and candy bars scattered about, a reminder of the chaos that unspooled that night.
Warfa said heavy cleaning was done Sunday and Monday, when a cleaning company washed blood stains from the tile and windows.
By Tuesday afternoon, all that was left was to weed out the spoiled fruit and vegetables and restock shelves. To expedite the cleaning, eight of Warfa's relatives showed up.
"Not anything like this has happened to the family before," said one cousin, who flew in from London last week to attend the funerals and help Faysal Warfa and his family. "To lose three young people at the same time in the same place in such a gruesome way, it gives all of us a shock."
As the men worked, two police detectives stopped to update Warfa on the investigation.
Several neighborhood residents also stopped by long enough to knock on the door, peer through the windows and wave or give Warfa the "thumbs-up."
Store hours before the shooting were 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. But Warfa said he plans to hold off on reopening today until 3 p.m., "just to make sure everything is fine."
He's confident the day will go smoothly, but admits he's a bit anxious.
"There was no question in my mind," Warfa said, "that I'd reopen this store."