"As you can already see on Facebook and Twitter, people are already planning to be here," she said."They recognize this is an anomaly. This is still our place, and we need to show everyone we need to be back."

A number of state, local and federal politicians attended the reopening, including Gov. Martin O'Malley, County Executive Ken Ulman and the two vying to succeed him, County Council member Courtney Watson and District 9 State Senator Allan Kittleman.

Watson said she thought the community would be "wrestling" with the tragedy "over the weeks to come.

"I think in the future, the community will heal, but it will take time," she said.

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She and Kittleman shared lunch from food court restaurant Sarku Japan.

Kittleman said he thought an important part of the healing process was a return to normalcy.

"I've had some people say, 'Oh, I'm never going to go to the mall again,' and I say.' No, that's not the way to respond. You need to go back, you need to shop.' These are our neighbors who run these businesses here and these shops, and we need to support them and we need to support the community spirit of Howard County," he said. "So I'm confident we're going to get by this and we're going to be even stronger."

County Council member Mary Kay Sigaty, whose district includes the mall, said she has talked with people with a wide range of reactions to the shooting.

"I continue to find that it impacts people in different ways," she said.

But, she added, "I believe that people will be back." 

Staff writer Amanda Yeager contributed to this report