Sheriff: Portland Mall Shooting Was Random [VIDEO]
The shooting at the Clackamas Town Center in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday night appears to be random according to police.
Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts tells NBC’s “Today” it appears that the shooting was random and the shooter was seemingly targeting “anyone who was in his line of sight.”
“It really was a killing of total strangers, to my knowledge at this point and time. He was really trying to kill as many people as possible,”Roberts later told ABC’s Good Morning America.
Police have yet to release the identify of the gunman who began firing shots inside the mall packed with 10,000 holiday shoppers & employees at 6:30PM EST (3:30PM PST).
The unidentified shooter was a man in his 20s who apparently fired at random because there’s no known connection between the gunman and the man and woman who were killed and the young woman who was wounded, police said.
The young woman, Kristina Shevchenko, whose age could not be confirmed, is in serious condition, Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland said early Wednesday.
Shoppers and employees ran out of the mall or hid inside offices, stores and restrooms in the mall.
Clackamas County sheriff’s Lt. James Rhodes told reporters at a press briefing, “I can confirm the shooter is dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound” adding no law enforcement rounds were fired in the mall. He was identified only as an adult male.
Over 100 officers from nearly every government agency responded to the shooting. Four SWAT teams were quickly deployed, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said, to “basically hunt down this guy in the mall” according to KATU TV.
The victims have not been identified.
“We had some true heroes stepping up,” Roberts said during a news conference.
Some emergency room nurses and a physician were at the mall when the gunfire erupted, and they immediately went to work to provide care to the wounded, he said. Others, including everyday citizens, also helped get out of the mall.
Police have not identified the weapon used in the shooting; early reports said he was using an AR-15 assault rifle.
The mall will remain closed on Wednesday according to their Facebook page.
KATU TV reports the gunman ran into the mall from Macy’s and began firing an assault weapon as he walked through the mall’s food court towards JC Penney hollaring “I am the shooter.” KATU reports the rifle jammed and the gunman ran back into Macy’s.
The station also reports a Christmas concert going on in the food court as the shooting took place.
Santa Claus, who is stationed outside Macy’s, offered reassuring words on KGW TV that he is OK and not injured. Witnesses reported seeing Santa drop to his knees but he was only taking cover and not shot.
CNN reports a man entered the mall via Macy’s and headed for the mall where he began firing as many as 60 shots. Witnesses say he was wearing a white mask similar to that seen in the movie “V For Vendetta” and body armor.
Some customers gathered in the electronics department at the mall’s Sears store watching TV coverage of the shooting reports CNN.
Kira Rowland told KGW-TV that she was shopping at Macy’s with her infant 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 like hell,” Rowland said. “It was awful. It was shots after shots after shots like a massacre “It was just awful.”
Another witness told the station she saw people screaming and parents grabbing their children as they fled the mall.Witnesses say the gunshots sounded like balloons popping.
The mall has about 185 stores and a 20-screen movie theater among anchor tenants that also include Nordstrom and J.C. Penney. Sheriff’s deputies said it would remain closed during the investigation of the shooting, but it wasn’t clear how long that would take.
The Associated Press contributed to this report