A victim of a shooting inside a Safeway grocery store in Bend, Oregon, may have saved lives by fighting the gunman, a spokeswoman for the Bend Police Department announced Monday.
Police were notified that a gunman opened fire in a parking lot at 7:04 p.m. Sunday in front of Costco before entering Safeway, Communications Director Sheila Miller noted in a press conference. The shooting killed two victims, 84-year-old Glenn Edward Bennett and 66-year-old Donald Ray Surrett Jr.
Surrett, a Safeway employee, encountered the gunman in an attempt to disarm him in the produce section of the store, according to Miller. The gunman, 20-year-old Ethan Blair Miller, fatally shot Surrett during the encounter.
“Surrett engaged with the shooter, attempted to disarm him and may very well have prevented further deaths,” she said. “Mr. Surrett acted heroically during this terrible incident.”
Officers arrived at the scene within two to three minutes after receiving dispatches and entered the store within one minute from all entries of the store. Police found the gunman dead by suicide. He was carrying an AR-15 style rifle and shotgun, Miller said. Authorities did not fire at the scene. (RELATED: 22-Year-Old Good Samaritan Who Shot Indiana Gunman In Greenwood Park Mall Shooting Identified, Police Say)
Police were notified of a suspected second shooter at the scene and of shootings occurring in other parts of town, though police found no evidence after conducting an investigation into these reports, according to Miller. Two other people suffered non-life threatening injuries from the incident, according to ABC News.
The motive of the shooting is currently unknown, though authorities are investigating reports that Miller may have posted his plans online, Miller added. There is no evidence of any previous threats or of any criminal history in the area. The department has partnered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to determine how Miller accessed the firearms.
Police received a search warrant to enter Miller’s apartment complex and vehicle Monday, according to a Bend Police Department press release. They found three Molotov cocktails and a sawed-off shotgun inside his vehicle. They also found ammunition and digital devices belonging to the gunman, according to the press release.
“This is a very large crime scene that encompasses much of The Forum shopping center, as well as an apartment complex and the inside of Safeway,” the press release said. “Law enforcement worked through the night to process the scene and will continue to do so in conjunction with the OSP crime lab over today and tomorrow. The entire parking lot remains closed to the public from the east side of Costco to the east side of Safeway.”