The masked gunman who opened fire in a crowded Oregon
shopping mall, killing two people and wounding a third before
taking his own life, appeared to have acted in a blind
rampage with no known motive, authorities say.
The Tuesday afternoon (local time) shooting frenzy at the
Clackamas Town Center in the Portland suburb of Happy Valley
triggered pandemonium inside the mall at the height of the
busy holiday season, sending thousands of shoppers streaming
out of the complex as authorities arrived on the scene.
Two people were shot to death and the lone gunman died from a
self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police were expected to release
the identities of the dead at a news conference in the nearby
town of Clackamas on Wednesday.
In the meantime, a 15-year-old girl wounded in the attack was
listed in serious condition, a hospital official said. She
was identified as Kristina Shevchenko.
"The family is doing OK," said her brother, Yevgeniy,
declining to comment further.
In a Facebook posting on Tuesday night, he said: "As of now
she is stable and sleeping. The bullet went (through)
bruising her lung, it missed any vital organs and it missed
her ribs. She will need two more operations. We appreciate
any and all support including your prayers! Thank you."
Authorities remained baffled at what led the suspect to open
fire in the mall, the latest in a flurry of U.S. gun violence
this year, most notably the killing of 12 people and wounding
of 58 others at a midnight screening of the Batman film "The
Dark Knight Rises" in Colorado in July.
"It did not appear as though he was targeting any specific
individuals," Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts told the
NBC morning news program "Today." "It really looked as though
it was a random shooting."
MISSION TO TAKE LIVES AT MALL
Asked what may have motivated him to carry out the attack,
Roberts said, "He had a mission set forth to take the lives
of people at that mall." Roberts added that he believed the
shooting only came to a halt after the gun jammed.
Undersheriff Matt Ellington said on CNN that police had
recovered a rifle, multiple shell casings and a mask matching
the one witnesses said was worn by the shooter. He said the
gunman had no known connection to those he shot.
Police converging on the mall on Tuesday 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.
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 (3 meters) away from us, wearing a
white mask and carrying something heavy with both hands,"
Baggs said in a report on the newspaper's website. "He went
running into the store."
Police and SWAT teams established a perimeter around the
scene and worked to evacuate the mall as they searched for
the gunman. Video footage from inside the mall, aired on CNN,
showed shoppers heading toward exits with their arms raised
above their heads.
Ellington said the Clackamas Town Center mall had been used
recently by police for a mass evacuation drill.