HAPPY VALLEY, Oregon — A gunman opened fire inside an Oregon shopping mall yesterday in the middle of the busy Christmas season, killing at least two people, critically wounding a young woman and terrorising holiday shoppers before shooting himself to death, police said.
The afternoon shooting rampage at the crowded Clackamas Town Centre in the Portland suburb of Happy Valley touched off panic inside the mall, sending thousands of shoppers streaming out as police and fire crews arrived on the scene.
Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said the lone gunman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and that law enforcement officers who descended on the scene had not fired a single shot inside the mall. A single weapon was recovered.
“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,” Roberts said.
The wounded victim was taken by helicopter to a hospital where a spokeswoman said she was in serious condition.
The incident marked the latest in a string of shooting rampages this year that included the killing of 12 people and wounding of 58 others at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado.
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.
“Shooting in the middle of clackamas town centre. I’m stuck in the back room of build a bear!” one person tweeted.
High school student Hannah Baggs, 14, told the Oregonian newspaper that she got a close look at the gunman before he entered the mall and opened fire.
“He was, like, 10 feet away from us, wearing a white mask and carrying something heavy with both hands,” Baggs said in remarks carried on the paper’s website. “He went running into the store.” (Reuters)