(Update: Police hold news conference; Safeway shopper tells of terrifying moments getting kids out of store)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A gunman armed with a rifle and shotgun fired several shots in the parking lot of a northeast Bend shopping center Sunday evening, then entered a Safeway and fired numerous more shots, killing two people and sending shoppers scrambling for the exits. Officers also found the shooter dead inside the store.
Police Chief Mike Krantz told reporters at a late-night news conference they believe the man entered the shopping center parking lot from a neighborhood behind it.
An AR-15-style rifle and shotgun were found “in close proximity to the shooter” when police arrived, Krantz said, adding that police fired no shots after arriving at the store.
There was a witness who believed there was a second gunman, but Krantz said their investigation has turned up “no evidence of a second shooter anywhere in the area.”
Krantz said close to 100 officers from several agencies were involved in the investigation of the “very large crime scene,” so it will take time to process the scene, including obtaining search warrants.
“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” Krantz said. “We know this is frightening for our community and something we would never want to happen in our city,” he said, promising that they are “following up on every lead.”
Krantz said police are aware of “information floating around social media” said to be postings by the gunman and are investigating them as well.
There also have been reports of shootings elsewhere in the city, the police chief said, but officers checking on those reports found “no evidence of other shootings in our community.” Specifically, he said, there was a report of shots fired in the area of Southeast Ninth Street and Reed Market Road, but police “found no evidence of a shooting there as well.”
“We ask the community to be patient as we work through” the investigation and to call in with any leads, to 911 if it’s an emergency, Krantz said. He also said he'd just learned of the one injured person and had no details.
Officers and medics rushed to the Forum Shopping Center just after 7 p.m. after numerous reports of gunshots and one or more victims and/or suspects.
The livestreamed news conference was held shortly before 11 p.m. (it begins about 2 minutes into the YouTube video):
Just before 8:30 p.m., St. Charles spokeswoman Lisa Goodman confirmed that they had received two people, one who was dead on arrival and another reported to be in good condition. A short time later, she said the hospital had been placed in a lockout.
Minutes later, Bend Police Communications Manager Sheila Miller told reporters three people had been shot and killed, including the alleged gunman.
Police responded to numerous calls just after 7 p.m. reporting shots fired at the Forum Shopping Center, she said.
Miller said at the gunman fired shots in the parking lot near the Costco and Big Lots stores, then entered the west entrance of Safeway.
"One person was shot inside the entrance," she said, and was reported dead on arrival at St. Charles Bend.
"Police believe the shooter continued firing through the store, shooting and killing an additional person" toward the back, produce area, Miller said.
Police found the shooter, dead in the store.
The police spokeswoman said that a "shelter in place" warning was still in effect in the area "out of an abundance of caution." Police planned a media briefing around 10:30 p.m. at police headquarters they said would be livestreamed on the city's YouTube page, https://www.youtube.com/user/cityofbendoregon.
Goodman said shortly before 9 p.m. that "the hospital is on lockout and we are encouraging people to stay away unless they are experiencing a medical emergency."
Still “shook up” two hours later, Safeway shopper Josh Caba told NewsChannel 21 about several terrifying minutes on a grocery run.
The Bend resident said his wife had stayed in the car, as she was not feeling well, while he went shopping with their four children.
“About 10 minutes later, we started heading to the front. Then we heard I don’t know how many shots out front – six or seven. I immediately turned to my children and said, ‘Run!’ People were screaming. … it was a horrifying experience.”
Worried about his wife, as it turned out, “by the grace and provision of God,” when he and three of their kids burst through the big black exit doors by the produce department, his wife had driven around back and "is sitting in the car, saying ‘Get in the car! Get in the car!’”
Caba said he went back in and found their fourth child, rushing her out of the store and to the car as well. He wanted to praise police for their actions.
“When I got out of that store and the kids were rounded up, they (officers) are running into the store. They are wonderful people. They deserve all the praise and credit in the world. It is absolutely more terrifying than you can imagine to have someone shooting at your kids. They are rock stars!”
Deschutes County 911 dispatchers received numerous calls just after 7 p.m. reporting multiple gunshots heard in the area of the shopping center, at Highway 20 and Northeast 27th Street.
Some callers reportedly said they saw someone dressed all black, while others said a male subject holding two duffel bags who may have entered the grocery store.
Others heard gunshots from the nearby Costco, to the east.
Bend police said in a tweet that there was "an active investigation in the area of The Forum Shopping Center. Please avoid the area. More updates to come as the investigation continues."
Bend police, Oregon State Police, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies, Oregon State Police and Bend Fire & Rescue medics converged on the scene, including numerous armed officers and armored vehicles, amid reports one or more suspects may have left the area.