Portland: A gunman opened fire in a suburban Portland shopping mall yesterday, killing two people and wounding another before apparently killing himself as people were doing their Christmas shopping, authorities said.
Witnesses described a scene of chaos and disbelief as the gunman wearing some sort of camouflage outfit and what looked like a hockey mask fired rounds fire from a military-style rifle near the food court at Clackamas Town Center.
Parents with children joined other shoppers rushing to stores` backrooms for safety as teams of police officers began entering the mall to find the shooter.
Clackamas County sheriff`s Lt James Rhodes said later that the gunman was dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A shopper told KATU-TV he saw a man lying on the floor with a gun next to him.
Authorities went store-to-store to confirm that there was only one shooter and to escort hiding shoppers outside, Rhodes said.
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, Patty said. He then fired several shots paced seconds apart.
A series of rapid-fire shots in short succession followed. 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, and dressed in camouflage. "I heard about 20 shots and everyone hit the ground," Moore said. "That`s when we all just ran."
The mall is one of the Portland area`s busiest. It`s in a middle-class area that has become popular with families as falling real estate prices have put its homes just a few kilometers from downtown Portland within financial reach.
Shaun Wik, 20, from Fairview, said he was Christmas shopping with his girlfriend yesterday and opened a fortune cookie at the food court. Inside was written "live for today, remember yesterday, think of tomorrow."
Holli Bautista, 28, said she was shopping in the Macy`s for a Christmas dress for her daughter when she heard pops that sounded like firecrackers.
"I heard people running and screaming and saying `Get out, there`s somebody shooting,`" she told the AP. "It was a scene of chaos."
She said hundreds of shoppers and mall employees started running, and she and dozens of other people were trying to escape through an exit in the department store.
Bautista said the Macy`s opens into the food court area, where it was reported the shootings took place. Bautista said it sounded like the shots were coming from that direction.