Witnesses describe terror of Clackamas shooting

Witnesses describe terror of Clackamas shooting

Credit: KGW Viewer Wilma

Witnesses describe terror of Clackamas shooting


by Teresa Blackman, kgw.com Staff


Posted on December 12, 2012 at 7:57 AM

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Holiday shoppers and people waiting in line for photos with Santa ran for cover and dove to the ground when they heard gunshots ring out in the Clackamas Town Center mall Tuesday afternoon.

“All of the sudden, I just heard a series of gunshots… boom, boom, boom, boom, boom… whatever the shooter was shooting at, they continued to shoot,” said shopper Bill Hoff.

More: Survivor identified in Clackamas Town Center shooting

People who saw the shooter told KGW he was wearing a white hockey mask and camouflage as he fired a large rifle near the food court. Then, his rifle jammed and he ran into the Macy's store.

“It was just shot after shot after shot. It was terrible. It was like a massacre,” witness Kira Rowland said.

"I turned around and saw him," said Courtney Olsen, who was spending her lunch break with her grandma. “He was just moving around, shooting. People were jumping, crying. It was unreal,” she said.

Other witnesses described the scene as complete chaos. They said people were screaming and parents were grabbing their children in terror.

”I just bolted," said Kelsey Barrows, who works at Macy’s. "There were little kids in my department, there were families, moms. We just told everybody, 'get inside the fitting rooms!' We all just climbed in there and stood on top of the benches that are inside of our fitting rooms and we just waited."

The Santa photo area was close enough to the shooter for people to hear the crackling gunshots. Fortunately the line was short at the time.  Santa said he dove to the floor and when he looked up, everyone else was gone.

"When I got up, there was nobody in the set but myself... Hopefully nothing like this will ever happen again," he said.

An employee named Logan works with his fiancé at a pet shop in the mall. They said it was confusing and terrifying because they had no idea exactly where the shooter was.

“I just heard ‘pop, pop, pop’ and saw my coworkers running into the back room,” Logan said.

“It was actually really nerve-racking. The back door doesn’t have a lock, so we barricaded it,” his fiancee’ Arial said.

Benjamin Christensen, who works in the mall, said he heard one shot, then six or seven more. He then began helping to evacuate people out of the rear exits.

Mark, a GameStop employee, said he was trying to help a mom and her daughter get out safely when he was startled to see one of the victims.

“It’s definitely something that’s going to be with me for a while. I saw one person down. They were performing CPR on her,” he said. “It’s very scary. Crazy things happen unfortunately, but that’s what’s wrong with this world.”

Shoppers and employees were crying and trembling as they fled into the parking lots.

)”I heard several shots. I saw a lot of people running, so I just went to the doors and held them open because people were trampling each other trying to get out," said Cyndi Lou Johnston, who works at Macy’s. "I just kept going back in, trying to get people out of there.”

“There were just cops everywhere and sirens and ambulances coming in. I hope everyone is okay,” said a shopper named Isabel. “It’s so close to a holiday. It’s terrible.”

“A deputy is about 50 yards away from me. He has a shotgun out, he’s hiding behind a car,” said John Canzano, a well-known local sports columnist who happened to be at the mall.

Other people started connecting with friends on social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

"It sounded like something collapsed, then went into rapid fire. After about 10 more shots were fired, we all started to run out the doors by the GNC store," said Tania Allen said, via Facebook.

"I was at the mall when it happened," a woman named Elizabeth tweeted. "I have never been so scared. I'm so glad I got out."

At a press briefing hours after that shooting, police said the shooter was dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. They also confirmed that two other people had been shot to death and others had been wounded.

SWAT officers were still inside the mall, police said, carefully searching every corner and every back room in the 185 stores to make sure everyone has been safely evacuated.  They said they had no reason to believe that there were any additional suspects at large.