As shoppers at a Bend, Oregon grocery store browsed the aisles and considered product choices on Sunday evening, a 20-year-old gunman burst into the Safeway store and began shooting, killing two people and injuring at least two others.
Police responded to the Forum shopping center around 7 p.m., authorities said. Rushing in, they heard gunshots, then discovered the shooter dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He entered brandishing an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun after firing into the parking lot, officials said.
It was yet another American shooting in which a young man with such a rifle sparked carnage in a place generally considered safe – a supermarket in New York, an elementary school in Texas and a July 4 parade in Illinois. .
The shooter was identified by police as Bend resident Ethan Blair Miller. As investigators work to uncover his motive, here’s what we know about the shooting.
The shooter entered through an apartment complex behind the mall, Bend Police Department spokeswoman Sheila Miller said.
He then began firing an AR-15 type rifle as he crossed the parking lot. As he entered the store, he shot Glenn Edward Bennett, an 84-year-old customer, who died on the way to hospital.
The shooter continued to move around the store and fire, Miller said. In the product department, Safeway employee Donald Ray Surrett, Jr., 66, confronted the shooter and was fatally shot, she said.
Responding to 911 calls about a shooting, Bend Police Department officers arrived within 3 minutes, Miller said.
Shots were fired as they burst into the Safeway, Miller said. Almost immediately, officers found the shooter dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, she said.
Near the shooter’s body they found the rifle and shotgun, Police Chief Mike Krantz said. Investigators also found three Molotov cocktails and a sawed-off shotgun in his car, along with additional ammunition in his apartment, officials said. Police are working with the ATF to determine if he legally possessed the guns.
There have been reports of two people with non-life-threatening injuries, Miller said. Police do not know how many people were in the store during the attack.
Bend police contacted the Oregon State Police Bomb Squad after becoming aware of online postings, Miller said. The bomb squad cleared the nearby grocery store and apartment complex.
As the shooter walked through the store, Surrett attacked him and tried to disarm him but was shot and killed, Miller said. Surrett’s quick action likely saved lives, officials said.
“As we are still gathering the facts about last night’s shooting, it is clear that many more people could have been killed had it not been for the heroism of Donald Ray Surrett, Jr., who stepped in to help stop the shooter, and the officers who entered while shots were still being fired,” Governor Kate Brown said in a statement.
“In the face of senseless violence, they acted with selfless bravery. Their courage saved lives,” Brown said.
Other employees were working a final shift in the deli when they heard loud gunfire, one who identified himself only as Robert told the Central Oregon Daily News.
“I and three other employees ran into a walk-in fridge and closed the door and stayed there and hid until authorities arrived,” he said.
Josh Caba and his four children were out shopping when the gunfire erupted, he told CNN affiliate KTVZ.
“We started moving towards the front. Then we heard I don’t know how many bangs from the front – six or seven. I immediately turned to my children and said, “Run! People were screaming. … it was a horrible experience,” Caba said.
Caba was worried about his wife, who had stayed in the car because she wasn’t feeling well.
But when he and three of his children fled through the exit doors near the produce section, he discovered that she had gone to the back of the store and was “sitting in the car saying ‘Get in the car! Get in the car!’ “KTVZ reported.
Caba then rushed into the store and found their fourth child, he said.
The shooter may have posted information online about Sunday’s shooting, as well as plans for future shootings – but did not share any details, police said.
“We have no evidence of prior threats or prior knowledge of the shooter,” Miller said. “We received information about the shooter’s writings after the incident and the shooter has no criminal history in the area.”
Authorities found digital devices currently under examination while executing a search warrant at his apartment, officials said.
CNN has identified blog entries appearing to be Ethan Miller posted on the “Wattpad” site detailing a plan and the reasons for the shooting. The posts were made public Sunday night by an anonymous account and viewable for 12 hours, according to Wattpad. The posts have since been deleted.
The first blog entry was titled on June 29 and signed with Ethan’s name. The author of the article blamed Covid-19 and quarantine for worsening their mental health.
Initially, this person was planning a shooting inside a high school on Sept. 8, according to the posts.
More than 35 posts were posted by the same account on the blogging site. Most of the messages indicated a desire to commit acts of violence.
One article referenced being “partially inspired” by the Columbine High School shooting.
In other articles by Ethan’s name, several reasons were cited for the writer to turn into a “ticking time bomb”, including his family and love life, which was detailed in an article titled The July 8.
The writer mentioned buying a shotgun and an AR-15 for the shoot and said they hoped to kill over 40 people. Throughout the posts, other mass shootings were also referenced.