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At least one dead, several wounded at mall shooting in Oregon

December 11, 2012|By Matt Pearce and Kim Murphy
  • Emergency vehicles arrive after a shooting at the Clackamas Town Center mall near Portland, Ore.
Emergency vehicles arrive after a shooting at the Clackamas Town Center… (AFP/Getty Images )

At least one person was killed and several injured when a masked gunman stormed into the Clackamas Town Center in a Portland, Ore., suburb and opened fire Tuesday afternoon, witnesses said.

The gunman appeared to be wearing a disguise, perhaps a hockey mask, witnesses said, and dropped his assault rifle when it appeared to jam during reloading. Witnesses said the incident began about 3:30 p.m. Shortly before 5 p.m., authorities said the shooter had been "neutralized."

Police confirmed that at least one person was dead and others wounded but had no more specifics. Clackamas County Sheriff's Lt. James Rhodes  would not confirm whether the shooter was dead. Authorities suspected only one person was involved in the attack.

The first officers to respond ran into the mall and found the shooter, Rhodes said.

Nicole Mason, 18, of Vancouver, Wash., told the Los Angeles Times that she was in the Things Remembered store next to Macy's on the lower level of the two-story mall when she heard a loud shot outside the store.

“We heard a really loud bang, and at first it sounded like something had dropped or something had shattered," Mason said. "About 15 seconds after that first shot, it was bang, bang, bang, at least 20 shots were fired."

She was with Seth Benson, 20, of Camas, Wash. When she dropped to the floor, he jumped on top of her.

"All I’m thinking is, 'Comfort her,’ so I laid on top of her and told her it was all going to be OK," Benson told the Los Angeles Times.

The Things Remembered manager told shoppers to head for a back door behind the register, shouting, "Go!" witnesses said. Benson helped a man with a prosthetic leg get up off the floor as he was being trampled.

They were outside the mall within 45 seconds of the shooting, Benson and Mason said. The parking lot was chaotic and clogged with people, and the first police officer arrived.

"It was pretty hectic, people were coming out crying," Benson said. "I talked to a group of girls whose mom was in there, and she was in the upper level, so there was obviously no exit for her to get out.”

Youssef Ibrahim, 26, of Milwaukie, Ore., told The Times that he heard the shooting as he was about to take an escalator down toward the Macy's from the second level.

“As soon as I heard the gunfire, I turned around and started running," Ibrahim said. "Some people saw me running and just started running. I started running. ... Panic, pandemonium, people running; I ran for my life. Literally, my wallet fell out. Thank God I have my phone on me.”

Isabel Valentine, who was shopping at the mall, told Portland's KGW television, "We started hearing gunshots and everybody started running; it was horrible."

She said shoppers at first did not realize it was gunfire. "Everybody started looking at each other and everybody started running like crazy.... It echoed through the entire mall. It was a lot of panic, a lot of screaming."

Another witness told the station that the gunfire erupted in rapid succession as he was shopping for watches, and he and other customers quickly ducked behind the counter before looking for shelter in dressing rooms.

At that point, an employee got an alert that the store was being evacuated, he said.

"It was like a dream. It was like, this wasn't really happening. But I knew I had to keep my wits about me," said the witness, identified as Bill.

An hour later, police scanner traffic was reporting people still trapped in the mall.

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