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Days before mall shootings, killer missed flight to Hawaii

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    Jacob Tyler Roberts

SEATTLE >> Jacob Roberts planned big life changes before this week’s shootings at a suburban mall in Oregon that left two people dead and another seriously injured: He quit his job, got rid of many belongings and aimed to move to Hawaii.

“He was kind of leaving suddenly,” said Holli Winchell, who socialized frequently with Roberts in the bars and restaurants of southeast Portland. “I’ve seen that happen before, where stuff comes up in someone’s life, where they kind of need a fresh, clean break. So we thought nothing of it. It was, ‘Good luck on your new life. Enjoy Hawaii.’”

Something went wrong, though, and Roberts didn’t make it onto the plane for Hawaii. The next thing his friends heard, he was dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Tuesday after shouting, “I am the shooter,” and opening fire with a semiautomatic assault rifle at the Clackamas Town Center, packed with Christmas shoppers.

Roberts’ Facebook page left what may be one of the only clues to his mindset: a picture of a graffiti-covered wall with the words, “Follow Your Dreams,” marked out with another word in large red letters: “Cancelled.” It had been uploaded Oct. 3.

In an interview with the Oregonian, Arianna Johnson, who worked with Roberts, 22, at Big Bertha’s, a late-night sandwich shop, said he had given notice near the end of November. He told co-workers that he had recently inherited money from a relative and that he planned to use that money to go to Hawaii, travel the islands and decide whether he wanted to move there permanently.

An ex-roommate, who did not give his name, said Roberts had sold all his personal belongings and was set to fly to Hawaii when he called on Saturday to say he had missed his flight. That was the last contact he had with him.

Police have not been able to discern any warnings of violence.

Brandon Froom said he considered Roberts “a good friend,” but saw no signs of anything wrong. “He never spoke much of his personal life,” he said. “He was entertaining. He made a lot of jokes.”

The Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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