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3 dead, including gunman, in Oregon mall shooting

By Steven Dubois and Jonathan J. Cooper

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:50 a.m. HST, Dec 12, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. >> The mall Santa was waiting for the next child’s Christmas wish when shots rang out, causing the shopping mall to erupt into chaos.

About to invite a child to hop onto his lap, Brance Wilson instead dove for the floor and kept his head down as he heard shots being fired upstairs in the mall Tuesday afternoon.

“I heard two shots and got out of the chair. I thought a red suit was a pretty good target,” said the 68-year-old Wilson. Families waiting for Santa scattered. More shots followed, and Wilson crept away for better cover.

Wilson was among hundreds of horrified people who ducked or ran for cover when a gunman, dressed in camouflage and a mask and possibly wearing body armor, fired dozens of rounds.

When it was over, three people were dead, including the gunman who police say killed himself.

Another bystander was seriously wounded, but the toll could have been far worse.

Witnesses said the suspect fired several times near the mall food court until the rifle jammed and he dropped a magazine onto the floor, then ran into the Macy’s store.

Witnesses heard the gunman saying, “I am the shooter,” as he fired rounds from a semi-automatic rifle inside the Clackamas Town Center, a popular suburban mall several miles from downtown Portland.

Some were close enough to the shooter to feel the percussion of his gun.

Police rapid-response teams came into the mall with guns drawn, telling everyone to leave. Shoppers and mall employees who were hiding stayed in touch with loved ones with cellphones and texting.

Police said they had tentatively identified the gunman but would not release his name or give any information on a possible motive.

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts told NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday that it appears to have been a random shooting and the gunman was seemingly targeting “anyone who was in his line of sight.”

“It was very apparent that he had a mission set forth to really take the lives of people in that mall,” Roberts said.

The shooting started around 3:30 p.m. It was not clear how long it lasted, but some shoppers and employees hid in fear for at least two hours as teams of police checked to see whether there might be another shooter.

Kayla Sprint, 18, was interviewing for a job at a clothing store when she heard shots.

“We heard people running back here screaming, yelling ‘911,”’ she told the AP.

Sprint barricaded herself in the store’s back room until the coast was clear.

Jason DeCosta is a manager of a window-tinting company that has a display on the mall’s ground floor. When he arrived to relieve his coworker, he heard shots ring out upstairs.

DeCosta ran up an escalator, past people who had dropped for cover and glass littering the floor.

“I figure if he’s shooting a gun, he’s gonna run out of bullets,” DeCosta said, “and I’m gonna take him.”

DeCosta said when he got to the food court, “I saw a gentleman face down, obviously shot in the head.”

“A lot of blood,” DeCosta said. “You could tell there was nothing you could do for him.”

He said he also saw a woman on the floor who had been shot in the chest.

Austin Patty, 20, who works at Macy’s, said he saw a man in a white mask carrying a rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest. There was a series of rapid-fire shots in short succession as Christmas music played. Patty said he dove for the floor and then ran.

His Macy’s co-worker, Pam Moore, told The Associated Press the gunman was short, with dark hair.

Kira Rowland told KGW-TV that she was shopping at Macy’s with her infant son when the shots started.

“All of a sudden you hear two shots, which sounded like balloons popping,” Rowland told the station. “Everybody got on the ground. I grabbed the baby from the stroller and got on the ground.”

Rowland said she heard people screaming and crying.

“I put the baby back in the stroller and ran,” Rowland said.

Kaelynn Keelin was working two stores down from Macy’s when the gunfire began. She watched windows of another store get shot out. She and her coworkers ran to get customers inside their own store to take shelter.

“If we would have run out, we would have run right into it,” she said.

Shaun Wik, 20, was Christmas shopping with his girlfriend and opened a fortune cookie at the food court. Inside was written: “Live for today. Remember yesterday. Think of tomorrow.”

As he read it, he heard three shots. He heard a man he believes was the gunman shout, “Get down!” but Wik and his girlfriend ran. He heard seven or eight more shots. He didn’t turn around.

“If I had looked back, I might not be standing here,” Wik said. “I might have been one of the ones who got hit.”

Clackamas Town Center is one of the Portland area’s biggest and busiest malls, with 185 stores and a 20-screen movie theater.

Holli Bautista, 28, was shopping at Macy’s for a Christmas dress for her daughter when she heard pops that sounded like firecrackers. “I heard people running and screaming and saying ‘Get out, there’s somebody shooting,”’ she told the AP.

She said hundreds of shoppers and mall employees started running, and she and dozens of other people were trying to escape through a department store exit.

Tiffany Turgetto and her husband were leaving Macy’s through the first floor when they heard gunshots coming from the second floor of the mall. They were able to leave quickly through a Barnes & Noble bookstore before the police locked down the mall.

“I had left my phone at home. I was telling people to call 911. Surprisingly, people are around me, no one was calling 911. I think people were in shock,” she said.

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busterb wrote:
Probably thought the Macy's reindeer were real.
on December 11,2012 | 02:26PM
Grimbold wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on December 11,2012 | 03:57PM
likewise wrote:
Suicide by mall cop? Well, thank God he was a bad shot. But he hit two people too many.
on December 11,2012 | 04:14PM
kailua1980 wrote:
Seriously? You guys are making jokes about a shooting in another state? What if it were here, and someone you know was involved? How tasteless. My company and my relative's company are scrambling to make sure no one in our organizations were hurt in this situation. I also want to point out to the anit-gun advocates that this is not a rally cry for banning private ownership of firearms. Rather, more so, it make me hope for passage of laws to allow concealed carry in our state. A trained, knowledgable private citizen with a firearm might have been on scene and able to prevent this from happening in the first place, or if the shooter had continued his rampage...stopped the carnage. My thoughts go out to all those affected by this tragedy.
on December 11,2012 | 05:34PM
johncdechon wrote:
Yes, HI needs to go from its currently sorry (and backwards, since most states changed over YEARS ago) "may-issue" to "shall-issue." Then the HPD Chief will HAVE to do his job and ISSUE permits. And with that case in Maryland some time back (July 2012) where Judge Legg ruled that there does NOT have to be a "good and substantial reason" for getting a concealed-carry permit -- as HPD Chief Kealoha requires now (except he never hears any "substantial" reasons so he doesn't issue). And more recently in Illinois (of all places, as repressive as that is), when the court said (in part) the “constitutional right of armed self defense is broader than the right to have a gun in one’s home.” So why are other states waking up, but HI isn't? Why has HI ignored the FULL exercise of the 2nd Amendment since Statehood? Why is it a right to "keep" a gun at home, but it's not a right to "bear" that gun past one's front door? Are people expected to STAY HOME all their lives in order to protect themselves? Not go to work or school because they will be victims waiting to happen out there? I am looking forward with great pleasure & anticipation to a SUCCESSFUL lawsuit against presently UNconstitutional HI, to FORCE it (as it won't do the right thing now on its own) to affirm the 2nd Amendment in its entirety. American citizens should have and share the SAME basic civil rights REGARDLESS of their state of residence. Right now, in re: to the 2nd Amendment, HI citizens are discriminated against & therefore second-class citizens.
on December 12,2012 | 09:42AM
aomohoa wrote:
He's a bad shot and he's dead. He's dead is the good part to the story. He won't cost the taxpayers a trial and they won't have to foot the bill for his life in prison!
on December 11,2012 | 06:19PM
usahwn wrote:
Sad part of the story two innocent dead . Miserables like this should jump off the freeway and not harm others
on December 11,2012 | 07:12PM
Eradication wrote:
Does it seem like we are having a shooting like this across America every week?
on December 11,2012 | 10:27PM
johncdechon wrote:
I don't understand how this could have happened: Malls have a "no guns" policy so there are those big "No Guns Zone" (AKA: killlingfields) signs all over the place. So how's that s t u pi d "no guns" policy working for them and other businesses which don't even allow LEGAL (state-issued permit) carriers to enter their malls (they have to leave it in their car)? More importanly, how it that st u p id policy protecting mall-goers? It isn't. There's no one there to deal with a ppsycho-sshoooter so he does whatever he wants. And more stories like this to come because the policies wo';t change. Victims should SUE the mall owners for millions, for criminal negligence/manslaughter, for refusing to let patrons protect themselves yet at the same time providing no armed & present secirity to protect patrons.
on December 12,2012 | 09:25AM
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