Safeway employee saved lives by confronting Oregon shooter, police say


Donald Surrett Jr. may have gotten away on Sunday when a man armed with an AR rifle began shooting inside the Bend, Oregon grocery store where Surrett worked. He could have hidden.

Instead, the 66-year-old Safeway employee attempted to disarm the shooter.

Surrett “could very well have prevented more deaths,” Bend police spokeswoman Sheila Miller said Monday, choking on Surrett during a press conference. “Mr. Surrett acted heroically during this terrible incident.

Surrett was one of two people killed Sunday night in a shootout that broke out at the end of the weekend and people tried to go shopping before the start of the work week. The “heinous attack” disrupted life in Bend, a small town in central Oregon known for the Deschutes River, outdoor recreation and craft breweries. On Monday, Pro-Tem Mayor Anthony Broadman said he refused to get used to such shootings.

“We have to guard against the cynicism of thinking of these attacks…as regular, inevitable things,” Broadman said. “I will not accept this. I know the Bend community will not accept this. We must be united. We will do it.”

Grocery store shootings happen more often, turning an ordinary race into an unforgettable nightmare. Guns Down America, a non-profit organization promoting gun control, counted 448 such incidents in which 137 people were killed in the 16.5 months between January 1, 2020 and May 14, when a gunman massacred 10 people at a Buffalo grocery store. Included in the data: 10 people were killed in a mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in RockColorado. Three months later, a person was killed in a supermarket in Decatur, Georgia. Three months later, someone was shot and killed at a Kroger market in the Memphis area.

“It’s one thing to hear about a shooting, but hearing about it in a place like where you work makes it all the more real,” said Trish Gross, a cake decorator at a grocery store in Long Beach, California. The Washington Post Last year. “Now I think about it every day I’m at work: what I would do, where I could hide. It’s something that’s constantly stuck in my head.”

Sunday’s attack at Bend’s Safeway began around 7 p.m. when Ethan Blair Miller left his apartment armed with an AR-type rifle and a shotgun and almost immediately began shooting, the chief said Monday. Bend Police Department Mike Krantz at the press conference. Miller then headed south to the Forum Mall where he continued shooting while in the parking lot of Costco and Big Lots, a department said. Press release.

Miller, 20, entered the Safeway using the store’s west entrance, where he shot and killed 84-year-old Bend resident Glenn Edward Bennett, police said in the statement. He continued to shoot as he roamed the store, until Surrett confronted him and attempted to disarm him in the produce section, police said.

Surrett was fatally shot.

Meanwhile, Bend police were responding to multiple 911 calls they received beginning at 7:04 p.m., police said. “When our officers arrived, they heard gunshots in the Safeway, and they entered the store to confront the shooter with shots still being fired,” Sheila Miller said.

Officers raided the store from the back and front approximately three minutes after the initial 911 call and, at 7:08 p.m., found Miller with a self-inflicted gunshot wound next to a rifle and a shotgun, according to the statement.

Police said that given the weapons Miller had and the time of day, Surrett may have saved lives by confronting the shooter. “There were a lot of people coming out of the store,” Krantz said. “It’s a busy area…with a lot of commercial areas there, a lot of stores. It was a busy parking lot back then.

Bend resident Josh Caba and his family were there; they had passed by the Safeway to do some shopping, KTVZ reported. Not feeling well, Caba’s wife stayed in the car as he and their four children got inside.

About 10 minutes into the shopping, Caba was walking to the front of the store when he heard six or seven gunshots. “I just turned to my children – I understood straight away what it was – I just said, ‘Children, run! “, he told KTVZ. “It was absolutely terrifying, more terrifying than you think. As a father, you always play these scenarios out in your head.

Caba and three of his children fled through the back of the store. After hearing the shots, his wife had driven their car and was waiting for them to get out, shouting at them, “Get in the car!” Get in the car!” As they did, Caba rushed to save their fourth child, who had fallen behind.

As the Cabas came out, police came in, he added.

“When I walked out of that store and the kids were rounded up, they rushed into the store. They are wonderful people. They deserve all the praise and credit in the world. It’s absolutely more terrifying than you can imagine to have someone shoot your kids,” Caba told the station.

Police said investigators are trying to uncover the motive for the shooting, establish any connections Miller may have had to the Safeway, and connect him to online postings, including a manifesto that may explain his thinking.

“We are aware that the shooter may have posted information regarding his plan online. We are investigating this,” Sheila Miller said. “We have no evidence of any prior threats or prior knowledge of the shooter. We received information about the shooter’s writings after the incident. And the shooter has no prior criminal history in the area.

On Monday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) highlighted Surrett’s “heroism.”

“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 officers who entered while shots were still being fired,” Brown wrote in a Facebook post.

“In the face of senseless violence, they acted with selfless bravery,” the governor added. “Their courage saved lives.”

Surrett’s ex-wife Debora said the oregonian that she wasn’t surprised that he confronted the shooter, given his background. For more than 20 years, Surrett served in the United States Army as a combat engineer.

“He was trained to do this stuff, because that’s what a combat engineer does,” she said. “They are the first to go to war.

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