Gunman terrorizes busy Portland mall

Three dead, including shooter; woman in serious condition

Associated Press photo

A couple with a child embrace after they were released from the mall at Clackamas Town Center on Tuesday.

December 12, 2012 - Updated: 1:17 p.m.

PORTLAND – A masked gunman wearing camouflage opened fire Tuesday in a busy Portland-area mall, leaving the gunman and two others dead and forcing the mall’s Santa Claus and thousands of Christmas shoppers and employees to flee or hide among store displays.

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. He heard the gunman say, “I am the shooter,” as if announcing himself. A series of rapid-fire shots in short succession followed as Christmas music played. Patty said he ducked to the ground and then ran.

His Macy’s co-worker, Pam Moore, told the Associated Press the gunman was short with dark hair. Witnesses said he started firing just outside Macy’s in the food court of Clackamas Town Center.

Brance Wilson, the mall Santa, said he heard gunshots and dived for the floor. By the time he looked up, seconds later, everyone around him had cleared out. Merchandise was scattered in some stores as he made his way to the door.

“Santa will be back,” Wilson said. “It’s not going to keep Santa away from the mall.”

More than 10,000 shoppers were inside the 185-store mall at the time, officials said.

The gunman was dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Clackamas County sheriff’s Lt. James Rhodes said.

Police said they have tentatively identified the gunman but would not release his name or give any information on a possible motive. No victims’ names were released.

Officials said a woman was also shot and was in serious condition at a Portland hospital.

“We have a young lady in the hospital fighting for her life right now,” Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said at a news conference late Tuesday. He added, “The mall’s supposed to be a place where we can all take our families. These things aren’t supposed to happen.”

Clackamas Town Center is one of the Portland area’s biggest and busiest malls. It encompasses more than a million square feet, includes major retailers such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, JCPenney and Sears and has a 20-screen movie theater. It will remain closed at least through today, Roberts said.

Shaun Wik, 20, from Fairview, said he 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.”

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.

Holli Bautista, 28, said she was shopping at Macy’s for a Christmas dress for her daughter when she heard pops that sounded like firecrackers.

She said hundreds of shoppers and mall employees started running, and she and others tried to escape.

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 quickly leave through a Barnes & Noble bookstore before the police arrived and 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.”

Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
Back to Spokesman Mobile