- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2002

Customers returned yesterday to the Montgomery County shopping centers that were terrorized by a shooting spree this week, but it wasn't necessarily business as usual: Merchants and shoppers alike said they still felt spooked.
"I hope lightning doesn't strike twice," said Aspen Hill resident Susan Thomas as she pushed her cart into the Shoppers Food Warehouse on Randolph Road in Glenmont. James Martin, 55, was killed in the supermarket's parking lot Wednesday night, but it was packed with cars yesterday afternoon.
Outside, Aspen Hill resident Gloria Russell kept her eyes peeled as she waited for groceries to be loaded into the back of her minivan. "You find yourself being more observant than you did on September 11," Ms. Russell said.
At the Country Boy general store next door, shoppers examined the flower pots beneath a spray-painted wooden sign that declared "Mums $3.99 each" and lined up at the counter to play the lottery.
"It was just four of us standing around looking at each other yesterday. Today, it seems like business has come back," said the manager, Sherry Bean.
Customers also returned to the Leisure World shopping center off Georgia Avenue in northern Silver Spring, where Sarah Ramos, 34, was killed Thursday morning.
The scene at the Images beauty parlor also looked normal: Husbands sat quietly in the waiting area while their wives sat under hair dryers.
The salon serves about 400 customers on a typical weekday. Business dropped off by about half Thursday, but it resumed at its regular pace yesterday, manager Cathy LoPinto said.
"The customers are calling ahead to make sure we're open. People are more aware. That's about the only change I've noticed," she said.
The one exception seemed to be the Crisp and Juicy chicken joint. Ms. Ramos was sitting on a bench in front of the eatery when she died; the bullet that killed her left a golf-ball-size hole in the restaurant's window.
On a typical weekday, the restaurant serves about 300 customers, one of the men working behind the counter said. There were no customers inside about 4 p.m. yesterday.
"It's slow," said the worker, who declined to give his name. He suggested that the bullet hole in the window was scaring customers away, but he said he did not know when it would be fixed.
Several customers said they will continue to patronize the shopping center.
"It's not a matter of choice. No place is safe anymore," said Barbara Fink, a resident of the Leisure World retirement community.

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