The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Breaking news

December 12, 2012

Oregon mall shooter: "He was really trying to kill as many people as possible"

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A suburban Portland mall remains closed Wednesday a day after a gunman wearing camouflage and a mask opened fire on shoppers, killing two people and wounding a third, before killing himself.

The 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.

"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," Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts told ABC's "Good Morning America."

Police said they had tentatively identified the gunman but would not release his name or give any information on a possible motive.

People at the mall were heroic in helping get shoppers out of the building, including emergency room nurses who rendered aid, Roberts said.

Employees at the mall with 2,000 employees were trained to run and hide, lock down and evacuate. Since previous mass shootings, the first arriving officers were trained to form teams and go inside instead of waiting for SWAT.

"This could have been much, much worse," Roberts said.

The first 911 call came at 3:29 p.m. Tuesday. The first officers arrived a minute later. By 3:51 p.m., all the victims and the gunman and rifle and been found. Four SWAT teams spent hours clearing the 1.4 million square-foot mall, leaving shoppers and workers to hide in fear.

The mall Santa, Brance Wilson, was waiting for the next child's Christmas wish when shots rang out, causing the mall to erupt into chaos.

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