In a ritual that has now become all too common in a nation that refuses to take a stand against assault rifles and automatic weapons, an unidentified man viciously mowed down shoppers at a mall outside of Portland, killing at least two people and himself.
Carrying a black semi-automatic assault rifle and wearing a white hockey mask and bulletproof vest, the gunman strode through Macy’s, other stores and the mall food court, firing a total of 60 shots as terrified shoppers and their children desperately dove to the ground and hid in nooks and crannies of the mall for cover. In addition to the two dead, who weren’t yet identified, authorities reported that a 15-year-old Portland girl was taken by ambulance to Oregon Health & Science University Hospital, where last night she was listed in serious condition.
According to witnesses, the gunman announced, “I am the shooter” as he created the carnage, which occurred at about 3:30 pm.
Lt. James Rhodes, a Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, told the media at a news conference that the gunman was 22 and had been tentatively identified. This morning, Sheriff Craig Roberts told “Good Morning America” that “We have been able to identify the shooter over last night. At this point in time, because of the investigation, we’re actually doing supplemental search warrants, we’re not able to release the name of the individual at point in time for the reason being that we don’t want to jeopardize the investigation.”
Nadia Telguz, said the 15-year-old shooting victim, Kristina Shevchenko, is a friend of hers and she is expected to recover.
“My friend’s sister got shot,” Teleguz told ABC News affiliate KATU-TV. “She’s on her way to (Oregon Health and Science University hospital). They’re saying she got shot in her side and so it’s not life-threatening, so she’ll be OK.”
Mall customers and employees described the terror in the same words we have heard from victims of other recent mass shooting, such as the Aurora, Colorado shooting in July that killed 12 people and injured 58.
“I thought I was going to die,” mall employee David Moran told CNN. “The gunshots were so loud, it was very scary. … Kids were crying. Parents were crying, too.”
Kira Rowland was holding her 6-month-old baby in Macy’s when the shots rang out.
“I threw my baby into the stroller and just started running because everybody was screaming and everybody just started to run,” she said.
Macy’s employee Austin Patty said he heard the shooter loudly say, “I am the shooter” as he ran through Macy’s, carrying an assault rifle “like you would see in a video game.”
Patty said he ran out of the store and warned everyone in his path that there was a shooter on the loose and they needed to get out of the store.
The sheriff’s office could not confirm if the shooter had a bulletproof vest, but officials believe that a rifle was the weapon used, Ellington said.
Investigators are reviewing surveillance footage to get a better picture of what happened, he said.
Erin Quackenbush-Baker was at a kiosk with her grandmother and three young children in the middle of the mall.
“My 5-year-old was covering her ears and crying. I was frantic to find a place to run, and I looked back (at) my son in my stroller and glass is falling over us,” she told CNN. “The shots were getting closer, and it sounded like he was getting closer.”
“I felt like sitting ducks, where we were.”
She said during a brief halt in the gunfire, a man in black fleece helped rush the family into a Sephora store where they hid for an hour, “waiting to see if we were going to be shot or not.”
Christina Fisher told KOIN that as word spread that the shooter was moving from store to store, customers at Sears burst into tears.
“We were told to stand in a group by the top of the escalators and stay away from the windows out of the aisle. … We stood there for probably a good 20 minutes,” she said. “All of the sudden, somebody came through with a radio, yelling, ‘Get down!’ ”
Tylor Pedersen told affiliate KGW that some customers watched television news reports about the shooting from inside the Sears entertainment center.
Antonio Charro saw a woman on the ground near a cell phone store and tried to help, but she had stopped breathing.
“She had apparently been shot in the chest, and I couldn’t get her turned over to help her,” said Charro, who had been shopping at the mall with his daughters. “There was no one around. She wasn’t breathing.”
According to Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts, there were about 10,000 people were in the mall at the time.
Ironically, on the same day as the gunman opened fire in Oregon, a federal appeals court in Chicago struck down Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed weapons, meaning the Illinois citizens may soon be able to carry weapons in public—demonstrating just how tragically far this country is from coming to some sensible policies on assault weapons.