The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

December 12, 2012

Gunman opens fire at Oregon mall; gunman, 2 dead

— PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A suburban Portland mall remained closed Wednesday while crime scene experts detail the shooting that left three people dead and one wounded and sent Santa and thousands of shoppers running.

The shooter, dressed in camouflage and a mask, was a man in his 20s who apparently fired at random before taking his own life, said Clackamas County sheriff's Sgt. Adam Phillips.

There's no known connection between the gunman and the man and woman who were killed and the young woman who was wounded. Kristina Shevchenko is in serious condition, Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland said early Wednesday.

Phillips said that Tuesday afternoon's shooting at a mall with 7,000 customers and 2,000 employees could have been much worse. Stores and police followed training from a shooting drill at the mall earlier this year.

The mall Santa, Brance Wilson, was waiting for the next child's Christmas wish when shots rang out, causing the shopping 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 the 68-year-old Wilson. 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.

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