Dec. 12, 2012 at 8:17 AM ET
A “variety of things” kept the death toll from rising after a masked gunman opened fire at a busy shopping mall in Portland, Ore., the area sheriff said Wednesday on TODAY.
“It was very apparent he had a mission set forth to really to take the lives at the mall,” said Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts.
He would not confirm additional details about the gunman, who witnesses said dressed in camouflage and wore a hockey mask.
The gunman opened fired Tuesday afternoon at the Clackamas Town Center, killing two people and seriously injuring a third before taking his own life. The chaos sent holiday shoppers, store employees and the mall Santa Claus fleeing for cover.
Family members of the survivor identified her as 15-year-old Kristina Shevchenko.
"By the mercy of God she is now in stable condition, but has a long road to recovery," they said in a statement.
Roberts, who expected to release the suspect’s name later in the day, said the gunman did not appear to target anyone in particular.
"It looked as though it was a random shooting, really anybody that was in his line of sight," he said.
Shopper Mira Sytsma was inside the mall when she heard the shots and immediately hid behind a kiosk. She soon noticed a male victim laying on the ground 50 feet away before coming in close contact with the gunman.
“I felt like I looked right at him and it was pretty scary, to see him face to face like that,” she said.
Shopper Kelly Lay was in the mall’s food court when he heard a pair of loud booms. He thought something had fallen before he realized what was happening. He ducked behind a nearby pillar, helping two nearby women, including one in a wheelchair, also take cover.
He saw people running for the exits as bullets bounced off the walls and food court signs.
“Seeing the tile break around me, I kind of got in fear and scared for my life,” he said.
He told the two women to run out the door and helped the woman in the wheelchair.
“As soon as I got out the door, I pretty much just took off running,” he said.