A Safeway employee, who had previously served in the U.S. Army for 20 years, engaged a shooter after he opened fire inside an Oregon grocery store on Sunday, which saved more people from getting killed. Police praised Bend resident Donald Ray Surrett Jr., 66, as a hero and claimed that his actions may have saved shoppers at the store.
Police said Surrett Jr. engaged the shooter in the produce section of the Bend, Oregon, supermarket for a long time, giving others the time to flee. However, in doing so he was killed along with another person. Police identified the shooting suspect as 20-year-old Ethan Blair Miller, and said he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
On Monday, Bend Police said at a press conference that three people died in the shooting, including the gunman. Besides Surrett Jr. and Miller, the gunman, police identified Bend resident Glenn Edward Bennett, 84, as the third victim, who was shopping at the time of the attack.
Surrett Jr. was hailed as a hero for attempting to disarm the shooter and eventually got shot but saved the lives of several others.
"This is the Safeway employee who engaged with the shooter, which is to say he attempted to disarm the shooter and attacked this person, and we believe he prevented further deaths in addition to the quick police response," Bend County Police Department communications director Sheila Miller told reporters.
Miller said that when police arrived at the Safeway, they discovered Miller dead next to a shotgun and an AR-15-style rifle. According to police, no rounds were fired any of the officers.
The incident also left two other persons with non-life-threatening wounds, according to police.
Following the execution of a search warrant, authorities claimed to have found extra ammo in Miller's apartment in the building behind the shopping center, along with three Molotov cocktails, a sawed-off shotgun, and his automobile. According to them, police and ATF are presently figuring out whether the weapons were acquired legally.
On Sunday, shortly after 7 o'clock p.m., Bend Police received a complaint regarding a shooter who was moving around the parking lot firing bullets from an AR-15-style rifle after emerging from a residential area behind the Forum Shopping Center.
The shooter then entered the Safeway supermarket and fatally shot Surrett in the produce aisle before shooting Bennett inside the entryway.
In order to determine whether the shooter had any connections to the Safeway or what his motivation may have been, police said they are investigating any online material the shooter may have uploaded, including a potential manifesto.
Miller allegedly stated in one post that he planning a shooting at Mountain View High School, according to the Bend Bulletin. The report claims that Miller also expressed a desire to make explosives.
The apartment building where the shooter resided is located behind The Forum Shopping Center. According to witnesses, Miller started shooting as soon as he left the complex on Sunday evening and continued firing as he pulled into the parking lot of the shopping center and then entered the Safeway.
Police said that after shooting Bennett at the entrance to the store, the gunman walked down the aisles "spraying rounds" from the assault rifle until Surrett approached him.
According to Miller, the entire episode took place in four minutes, from the initial 911 calls to the moment that officers found the suspect dead inside the business.
Police now believe that they may get to know a lot more from the online material Miller posted. Authorities seized a number of digital devices inside the gunman's apartment and are looking for a search warrant to look through internet content on those devices, but they chose not to comment on rumors that the shooter had announced his plans online beforehand.
To find out where the suspect obtained his guns and if he did so lawfully, Bend police are collaborating with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Miller said.