A 20-year-old gunman who opened fire at a Safeway grocery store in Bend, Oregon, may have been thwarted from taking more lives by a store employee who fought him over the gun and was one of two people killed, authorities said on Monday.
The shooter, who lived in an apartment complex adjacent to the store, was identified by police as Ethan Blair Miller, 20. He took his own life before officers could fire a single shot, Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz told reporters at a news conference.
Store employee Donald Ray Surrett Jr., 66, sought to disarm Miller near the produce section and was slain during the confrontation.
“He may well have prevented further deaths,” Krantz said.
A customer of the store, 84-year-old Glenn Edward Bennett, was also killed in the shooting rampage. Two other people suffered minor injuries.
Police said Miller entered the Forum Shopping Center parking lot about 7 p.m. on Sunday from the Fox Hollow Apartments carrying an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun. A second shotgun and three Molotov cocktails were found in his car.
Officials declined to speculate on a motive for the rampage and said they were investigating social media reports that may be linked to the gunman. Digital devices were found at his home, police said.
Officers responded immediately to emergency calls and entered the store while gunshots were still being fired, Krantz said. They found Miller dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The shooting in Bend, a community of 100,000 people 160 miles southeast of Portland, follows a string of mass shootings in the United States over the last several months.
On May 14, ten people were killed in a shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. Ten days later, a massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters