A man who fatally shot two people inside a Safeway supermarket in Bend, Oregon, began the shooting in a residential neighborhood of apartment complexes behind the shopping center and continued his rampage in the parking lot before entering the store, authorities said Monday.
Terrified shoppers and employees fled for safety late Sunday when the suspect entered the supermarket and began “spraying shots" from an assault rifle, police said.
Police officers found the gunman, whose name has not been released, dead “in close proximity" to an AR-15-style weapon and a shotgun inside the Safeway supermarket, Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz said during a Sunday night news conference.
The Forum Shopping Center remained closed Monday as law enforcement officials continued their investigation.
The shooter fired shots in the shopping center's parking lot at about 7:04 p.m., and multiple people called 911, the chief said.
Authorities do not believe anyone was injured in the neighborhood or parking lot.
“It’s a huge crime scene as you can imagine because of the parking lot,” Bend police spokeswoman Sheila Miller said Monday. “We’re still collecting information.”
Miller said reports that there was a second shooter were not true. She said reports of other shootings around Bend at the same time were also not true.
A news conference was scheduled for Monday to provide updated information.
Molly Taroli, 40, was shopping for dinner with her husband when the shooter starting “spraying shots," she told The Bulletin newspaper.
Taroli told the newspaper she took her own handgun from her purse, as employees yelled, “go, go, go!” as they tried to help people flee the store.
Josh Caba, another shopper in the store, told KTVZ he was with his four children when he heard multiple shots.
“I immediately turned to my children and said, ‘Run!’ People were screaming,” Caba told the news outlet. “It was a horrifying experience.”
Heather Thompson, who was across the street from the shopping center, told the Central Oregon Daily that she heard multiple shots.
“I heard anywhere from five to eight shots. I thought it sounded like backfire,” Thompson said. “Less than a minute later, there were 10 to 20 shots and then another 10 to 20 shots. And by that time, I went inside and told my dad to get away from the window. And people were running out of Safeway.”
Krantz, the police chief, said the shooter shot one person in the store's entrance. That person was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.
The shooter continued firing inside the store, fatally shooting another person, the chief said.
A third person was in good condition Monday at a local hospital, Miller said.
Police entered the supermarket “still hearing shots," Krantz said. They did not fire any shots, he said, adding that they found an AR-15 style rifle and another shotgun near the deceased shooter.
“This will take along time to collect evidence,” Krantz said. “We know this is a frightening thing for our community.”
Oregon's elected leaders reacted to the shooting Monday with pledges to fight for more gun control.
“America cannot just shrug its shoulders at another mass shooting with loved ones grieving the loss of family and friends,” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, tweeted.
“I’m willing to work with anybody who’s sick and tired of mass shootings to find solutions that put an end to this gun violence madness once and for all.”
Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement that the shooting was one of several in Oregon over weekend and that “Oregonians deserve to be safe from gun violence.”
Oregon residents will vote in November on one of the strictest gun-control measures in the nation. If passed, Initiative 17 would ban large capacity magazines over 10 rounds — except for current owners, law enforcement and the military — and require a permit to purchase any gun.
To qualify for a permit, an applicant would need to complete an approved firearm safety course, pay a fee, provide personal information, submit to fingerprinting and photographing and pass a criminal background check. The state police would create a firearms database.
Bend is a city of about 97,000 approximately 160 miles (257 kilometers) southeast of Portland, Oregon.