Two people were killed and at least one other person was seriously wounded during a Tuesday afternoon attack at Clackamas Town Center’s food court area.
The attack began at about 3:27 p.m., sending nearly 10,000 people scrambling for exits inside the two-level, 1.2 million-square-foot shopping center in suburban Clackamas County, about 12 miles from downtown Portland.
According to the CBS News, police said they have tentatively identified the gunman but would not release his name or give any information on a possible motive. They said he apparently killed himself, adding that they did not fire any shots.
The police also did not provide any other details about the shooter or the weapon, other than it was a semi-automatic rifle.
Officials said a female teenager 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 at a news conference late Tuesday.
Sheriff said: “The mall is supposed to be a place where we can take our families. He took the lives of two people and a young lady is at the hospital fighting for her life right now.”
The wounded victim was taken by helicopter to a hospital where a spokeswoman said she was in serious condition.
Clackamas Town Center is one of the Portland area’s biggest and busiest malls, with 185 stores and a 20-screen movie theater. It would remain closed at least through Wednesday, Roberts said.
One witness told reporters that the gunman apparently entered the mall through a side door near Macy’s on the south side of the mall near the center of the main building. The man dressed in black and wearing a hockey mask, ran through the mall before shooting, says the Portland Tribune.
Brance Wilson, the mall Santa, said he heard gunshots and dove 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, reports the Huffington Post.
When the bullets started flying, other witnesses said things happened fast. With the sound carrying in the mall, they said it was hard to pinpoint where the shots were coming from. So many went into survival mode and hoped and prayed for the best.
And when the chaos converged on the mall, customers and employees went with their first instinct, hunkering down in back rooms or dropping to the floor.
Alina Pavlenko, 16, said it felt like the shooter was right in front of her even though he was maybe 100 feet away when he took aim. Pavlenko said that image of seeing a woman get shot is burned into her memory.
In Oregon, police evacuated terrified shoppers, who were reported by local media and via Twitter to have hidden in the back rooms of shops as gunshots rang out in the 1.4 million- square-foot mall.
Some of the Tweets connected with the accident:
“@HolliLinnB Trying to evacuate. Oh my god this is terrifying (@ Clackamas Town Center)”
“@RyFrisco Shooting in the middle of clackamas town center. I’m stuck in the back room of build a bear!”
“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said in a statement released by his office. “I appreciate the work of the first responders and their quick reaction to this tragic shooting,” Reuters writes.