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Gunman opens fire at Oregon mall; gunman, 2 dead

By Steven Dubois

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 12 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

A couple with a child embrace after they were released from the mall at Clackamas Town Center in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. Witnesses say the scene went from cheery to chaotic in seconds when a gunman opened fire in the suburban Portland shopping mall Tuesday, killing two people and wounding another.

AP Photo/The Oregonian, Thomas Boyd

PORTLAND, Ore. — 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.

About to invite a child to hop onto his lap, Wilson instead dove for the floor and kept his head down as he heard shots being fired upstairs in the mall.

"I heard two shots and got out of the chair. I thought a red suit was a pretty good target," said Wilson, 68. Families waiting for Santa scattered. More shots followed, and Wilson crept away for better cover.

Witnesses said the gunman fired several times near the mall food court until the rifle jammed and he dropped a magazine onto the floor, then ran into the Macy's store.

Witnesses heard the gunman saying, "I am the shooter," as he fired rounds from a semi-automatic rifle inside the Clackamas Town Center, a popular suburban mall several miles from downtown Portland.

Some were close enough to the shooter to feel the percussion of his gun.

Police rapid-response teams came into the mall with guns drawn, telling everyone to leave. Shoppers and mall employees who were hiding stayed in touch with loved ones with cellphones and texting.

Kayla Sprint, 18, was interviewing for a job at a clothing store when she heard shots.

"We heard people running back here screaming, yelling '911,'" she told The Associated Press.

Sprint barricaded herself in the store's back room until the coast was clear.

Jason DeCosta, a manager of a window-tinting company that has a display on the mall's ground floor, said when he arrived to relieve his co-worker, he heard shots ring out upstairs.

DeCosta ran up an escalator, past people who had dropped for cover and glass littering the floor.

"I figure if he's shooting a gun, he's gonna run out of bullets," DeCosta said, "and I'm gonna take him."

DeCosta said when he got to the food court, "I saw a gentleman face down, obviously shot in the head."

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