A shooting incident inside a Safeway supermarket in Bend, Oregon left three people dead. These people include the suspect himself as well as a Safeway employee who attacked the gunman in an attempt to stop him. 

The employee was a 66-year-old named Donald Ray Surrett Jr. Moreover, he was hailed by the police at a news conference. Besides the attacker, Surrett and an 84-year-old customer, Glenn Edward Bennett, were killed in the shooting on Sunday evening. While two others were injured.

Police stated on Monday that the shooter died due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Furthermore, his body was found by the police near an AR-15-style weapon and a shotgun. They were able to identify the gunman, a 20-year-old man named Ethan Blair Miller from Bend.

According to ABC News, police spokeswoman Sheila Miller stated that Bennett was killed at the store’s entrance. Up until Surrett engaged him, the shooter was moving through the aisles “spraying gunfire” from the assault rifle.

Within four minutes, the entire incident—from the initial 911 calls to the time that police discovered the suspect dead—had taken place. As the shooting continued, police entered the supermarket from the front and back.

The Forum Shopping Center remained closed on Monday while law enforcement officials continued their investigation.

More on the shooting incident: accounts from the witnesses

CBS News reported during a news conference on Sunday. “The shooter fired shots in the shopping center’s parking lot at about 7:04 p.m., and multiple people called 911.” Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz said.

Molly Taroli, a 40-year-old customer, was shopping for dinner with her husband when the shooter started “spraying shots.” Taroli stated that she grabbed her own handgun from her purse. While employees yelled, “go, go, go!” trying to help people flee the store.

Heather Thompson, who was across the street from the shopping center, told CBS affiliate KBNZ-TV that she heard multiple shots.“I heard anywhere from five to eight shots. I thought it sounded like backfire,” Thompson said.

Photo courtesy of The New York Times

“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.”

Another customer, Josh Caba, was with his four children when he heard the multiple shots. He immediately turned to his children and said, ‘Run!’ while people were screaming. “It was a horrifying experience.”

Miller stated that the shooting continued as it entered the store. It fatally shot a third person. Fortunately, the victim was in good condition at a local hospital. 

Krantz said that the gunshots were still being heard when police entered the crime scene. However, they did not fire any shots themselves. In addition, they found an AR-15-style rifle and another shotgun near the deceased shooter.

They believe that no one in the neighborhood nor the parking lot was injured. It’s a huge crime scene. Thus, police enforcers are still collecting information. 

How did the Safeway employee stop the gunman?

Photo courtesy of ABC News

At the news conference, Miller stated that Mr. Surrett engaged with the shooter and attempted to disarm him. Thus, his effort to disarm him prevents further deaths from occurring and saves everyone else in the shopping center. “Mr. Surrett acted heroically turning this terrible event.”

Photo courtesy of International Business Times Singapore

Debora Jean Surrett, Donald Ray Surrett Jr.’s ex-wife, said during a phone interview with The Associated Press that Mr. Surrett was a combat engineer in the Army for 20 years. Though he was not deployed to active combat zones, they were stationed in Germany three times. They lived on military bases across the U.S. throughout the years they were married from 1975 to 1995.

“They’re trained to be the first ones to go into war and the last ones to come home,” she told the AP.

Who is the gunman?

Photo courtesy of Scallywag and Vagabond

Ethan Blair Miller graduated from Mountain View High School in Bend in 2020, according to online records, and a former classmate remembered him as an extremely combative person who had few friends.

They said that Ethan Miller was a huge fan of mixed martial arts. Furthermore, Miller also tried to fight everyone at Mountain View. Isaac Thomas, a previous schoolmate, was once suspended for a week as a freshman for fighting with Miller. The gunman even held a grudge against him and once threatened to shoot him. 

“At one point he said he was going to shoot me and I was like, ‘Get over yourself’ because I didn’t think he had a gun, but I guess I was wrong,” Thomas said.

During the investigation, authorities later found three Molotov cocktails and a sawed-off shotgun in the shooter’s car. The Oregon State Police bomb squad had to be called in to check and clean the area and every crime scene for explosives. This forced the evacuation of eight surrounding apartments on Monday morning.

They are also seeking a search warrant to investigate through online materials on an unspecified number of digital devices found in the gunman’s apartment. Bend police are working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to investigate where the suspect acquired his weapons.

Unfortunately, they currently have no evidence of previous threats or prior knowledge of the shooter. In addition, the gunman also has no criminal history in the area. 

Gun control in Oregon

The continuous shooting incident throughout several states increases the urge to fight for more gun control. A Democrat and Oregon senator, Jeff Merkley, spoke about the horrific shooting in Bend. He is urging Democrats, Republicans, rural folks, urban folks, and responsible gun owners to gather and put an end to gun violence. 

Moreover, another Oregon senator and Democrat, Ron Wyden, supported Merkley’s statement. “The Oregonians who went to shop or to work at the Bend shopping center where last night’s mass shooting happened need our thoughts and actions. America cannot just shrug its shoulders.”

Photo courtesy of The Source Weekly

Wyden stated that Congress passed legislation that would toughen background checks for young gun buyers. Furthermore, it would also keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders. It would also help states implement red flag laws to make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people that can be dangerous.

We express our deepest condolences to the victims of the shooting in Bend, Oregon. Definitely, the legislators should start taking action to prevent losing more lives. 

Until then, stay with us here at Spiel Times for more content.

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SOURCES: apnews.com, theguardian.com, abcnews.go.com, cbsnews.com