BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Police on Monday identified a 20-year-old gunman who opened fire at Bend’s Eastside Safeway Sunday evening, fatally shooting a shopper at the entrance, then a store employee who they said heroically tried to disarm the shooter and may well have prevented more deaths.
Ethan Blair Miller, 20, took his own life at the back of the store as the first officers entered, still hearing shots ringing out. He was found in the rear produce section, with what police called an “AR-15-style rifle” and a shotgun at his side.
Customer Glenn Edward Bennett, 84, of Bend, was shot inside the west entrance, and despite officers’ and Bend Fire medic’s lifesaving efforts did not survive, Bend PD Communications Manager Sheila Miller said at a news conference.
The shooter continued firing as he moved through the store and customers fled before encountering a worker in the produce section near the rear of the store, identified as Donald Ray Surrett Jr., 66, also of Bend, who Miller said “acted heroically” by engaging with the shooter and trying to disarm him. He was shot and died at the scene.
Two other people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Miller said.
Officers were on scene within two to three minutes of the initial call. The first two officers on scene “entered the store to confront the shooter,” Miller said, one from the front entrance and one from the rear. The report of “suspect down” came four minutes after the initial 911 call, she said.
Miller – whose recent, violent and threatening online postings were virally shared on social media quickly after the shooting – lived at the nearby Fox Hollow Apartments, Miller said. (In a post dated Saturday, he reportedly said he was “done waiting” and that Sunday would be “doomsday. … I can’t stand more than one more day of absolute misery.”)
Witnesses and 911 callers reported the possibility of a second shooter, but Miller said offers found no evidence of other shooters and “do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the public,” Miller said.
Because of the gunman’s online statements threatening violence, the Oregon State Police Explosives Unit (bomb squad) cleared the store and his apartment, asking residents of eight adjacent apartments to voluntarily evacuate. Miller said all the buildings at the shopping center had been cleared.
A search warrant was served at the shooter’s apartment and on his vehicle. Three Molotov cocktails, a sawed-off shotgun and more ammunition were found, along with digital devices now under review.
Police are investigating the widely shared online postings by the gunman, but Miller said police had received no information about his threats of violence before the shooting and he had no criminal history locally.
How the gunman accessed his guns also is under investigation by police, partnering with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Miller said a tip line has been established at 541-322-6380 for anyone with information that could assist in the investigation.
Investigators worked through the night to process “a very large crime scene,” Miller said. They expect to be on scene into Tuesday, and officers will be at a nearby location to return property left in the store, along with a plan to return vehicles from the parking lot. Mental health counselors also will be on site.
Deschutes County Victims Assistance and county Behavioral Health have set up a community support center at Pilot Butte Middle School from 3-7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, and anyone in need of services can drop in as needed she said.
Support through the Crime Victims Compensation Program is available for anyone who was at the scene or their next of kin. An application can be completed through Deschutes County DA’s Victims Assistance or Crime Victims Compensation Program, and links to that application can be found on the Deschutes County District Attorney’s website.
Bend Police said they “were assisted by every law enforcement agency in the region, including the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, the Oregon State Police, Redmond Police Department, Bend Fire & Rescue, and others. The federal Department of Justice and the FBI also responded. The Central Oregon Emergency Response Team was activated as well. We are extremely grateful for all of these agencies’ assistance as we continue this investigation.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Anthony Broadman expressed the city’s heartbreak at the events and offered condolences to the two families of those “murdered in this heinous attack.”
“We need to guard against the cynicism of thinking of these as regular, unavoidable things,” Broadman said. “I won’t accept that. I know the community of Bend won’t accept that.”
Here is Mayor Pro-tem Anthony Broadman’s statement, issued earlier:
“It was a dark night in Bend. As we grieve last night’s senseless gun violence, I want to make sure that people have good facts and the resources they need.
The Bend Police Department is providing factual updates as they are able. There will be an additional press conference today at 12:30 p.m. that will be livestreamed on the City of Bend’s YouTube channel.
First, there is no indication at this time that there was more than one attacker. The apparent killer is deceased. While this remains an active investigation, and regrettably we must always be vigilant, at this time, we do not believe there is further immediate danger in connection with last night’s incident. Second, the men and women of Bend Police Department and several local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies worked through the night to protect people in Bend and conduct a thorough investigation, collecting all evidence and processing it properly. This takes time.
Thank you to Chief Mike Krantz for helming this multi-agency effort, which included support from Bend Fire & Rescue, Oregon State Police, Deschutes County Sherriff’s Office and the FBI. Thank you to the emergency and medical personnel, St. Charles, and everyone who stepped up to shepherd this community through a horrific night, along with Governor Kate Brown who monitored the situation closely throughout the evening.
Today we will begin to mourn those we have lost, support the families stricken by this immense tragedy, and comfort our traumatized City. Mourn now, and let us continue to work as a community to ensure these tragedies are not repeated, that gun violence is not part of our culture, and that we live our lives free of terror. We are strong when we stand together.
I learned of the shooting, like so many of you, from a friend at the scene, helping those who’d been shot. He’s one of my church friends, who I normally text with about snow reports and homebrew recipes. Our entire community has been attacked, and the families of the loved ones we have lost will need our strength in the coming hours and days.
As we are all processing the trauma of last night, remember there are mental health resources available. The Deschutes County Crisis Line available to anyone who is experiencing a crisis or needs crisis support. Call 541-322-7500 ext. 9. Deschutes County Walk-in Crisis Services also provides access to a therapist for individuals experiencing a crisis. Contact the Deschutes County Stabilization Center at 63311 NE Jamison Street in Bend. Or call their 541-585-7210- Office Line for Non-Emergency.
And finally, if you are interested, there is a community vigil from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. tonight in Drake Park. Watch for more information throughout the day.”
The vigil is being hosted by the group Moms Demand Action. They ask people not bring candles and use battery-operated lights instead.
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