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Rite Aid employees among those at vigil for workplace shooting victims

Rite Aid employee Charon Baines recalled being at work when co-workers started running into his building, saying they were fleeing gunfire.

As his building was locked down, he and others searched for information about what was taking place.

Was there really a shooting? How many people were hurt? Were they still in danger?

Baines recounted that uncertainty and fear Friday evening at a vigil hosted by Harford County faith leaders at a church down the road from the Rite Aid distribution center where, a day earlier, a temporary employee opened fire on her co-workers, killing three and injuring three others before turning the gun on herself.

“It’s really scary. We never ran into anything like that in this community before,” said Baines, 42, of Aberdeen, who said he’s worked for 12 years at the distribution center. “It makes everybody afraid. Even though it didn’t happen our particular building, it happened in a building I normally go into.”

About 40 people gathered for the vigil, held at the Cranberry United Methodist Church, lighting candles and singing, “Oh Lord, hear my prayer.”

A small group of the attendees were Rite Aid employees, some who tearfully embraced.

“Families are grieving. Our community is shaken. There are many questions, and not many answers,” said the Rev. Tiffany Patterson, the church’s pastor.

The vigil brought together county faith leaders, who said healing would come through togetherness and compassion.

“Days like this we come together as one family, as human beings. That’s what matters on days like this,” said Imam Abdullah Dibba of the Admadiyyah Muslim Community.

“Healing is a process,” said Aberdeen City Councilman Melvin Taylor, who is a bishop at an Aberdeen church. “We know that in the midst of all this, somehow, some way, some good can come out of it.”

Viviana Carey and Jessica Spore, who like Baines worked in a separate building as the shooting broke out, recalled uncertainty and said it took what seemed like hours for information to be relayed to employees.

They are still shaken.

“You’re paranoid almost. It’s not something you can really explain,” Spore said. “I feel like I’m living out of body, just looking in on the world not sure exactly what’s going on.“

Spore, who has been employed three years at the distribution center, said she’s uncomfortable about returning to work. The outpouring of support from the community has helped.

“I didn’t feel so alone anymore,” she said.

Carey said the location has many employees “but we’re all one big family.”

Speakers at the vigil talked of raising money to help survivors of the shooting, noting some are the breadwinners of their families.

“We are ‘Harford strong,’ and we will all get through this,“ said Angela Rose, president of the Harford County Chamber of Commerce.

jfenton@baltsun.com

twitter.com/justin_fenton

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