Police ID Gunman in Mall Shooting Spree

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 12 2012 9:44 AM

Police Say Masked Mall Gunman Hoped To "Kill as Many People as Possible"

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Law enforcement work outside the Clackamas Town Center mall after a shooting on December 11, 2012

Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images.

UPDATE at 2:25 p.m.: Oregon police have IDed the suspected gunman as 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts. Authorities also identified the deceased victims as 44-year-old Steve Forsyth and 54-year-old Cindy Ann Yuille.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts did not offer any clues to Roberts' motive at today's press conference, but he did say that Roberts used an AR-15 rifle that he had stolen from an associated earlier in the day. More on Roberts here.

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Original Post, Wednesday 9:40 a.m.: Police, reporters and just about everyone else in Oregon this morning are attempting to piece together exactly what happened yesterday afternoon outside of Portland, where a masked man opened fire at a suburban mall, reportedly killing two people and injuring a 15-year-old girl before turning the gun on himself. What we don't know: The man's identity and motive. What we do: Things could have been a lot worse.

The Oregonian sets the scene:

As up to 10,000 shoppers strolled amid holiday decorations and background Christmas carols, the Clackamas Town Center shopping mall erupted into a scene of horror Tuesday, when a masked gunman raced inside the mall and began firing dozens of shots. 

Emergency 9-1-1 calls, tweets from customers and cell phone calls immediately portrayed a picture of violence, terror and confusion. Conflicting reports suggested the possibility of multiple gunmen and a half-dozen or more casualties, while the assailant apparently remained at large.  ...

Shoppers, employees and witnesses ran for the parking lots. Stores were locked down. Cell phone circuits became overloaded. Interstate 205 and neighboring streets backed up with traffic. Empty brass cartridges piled up on the floor of the Town Center food court.

Police say they have tentatively IDed the shooter, although they are keeping his name under wraps for now. He is said to be a man in his 20s who is believed to have fired at random in the mall, unloading as many as 60 rounds by some eye-witness accounts. The man was wearing a hockey mask of the type made famous by Friday the 13th, according to police. Early reports suggested he may have also been wearing camouflage and body armor, but those details have not been confirmed. Police say they are confident he acted alone.

Speaking on NBC's Today show and ABC's Good Morning America, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said that the gunman, who first opened fire in the food court, appeared to be targeting "anyone who was in his line of sight" and that "to my knowledge at this point in time he was really trying, I think, to kill as many people as possible."

The shooting's location and timing obviously make the whole thing that much more surreal. Reporters who descended on the scene spoke to a wide variety of witnesses, many of whom were in the middle of their Christmas shopping when the gunfire broke out. The Associated Press managed to talk to the mall's Santa, who was about to invite the next child to hop onto his lap when the shooter opened fire. "I heard two shots and got out of the chair," 68-year-old Brance Wilson told the news wire, explaining that he quickly dove to the floor for cover. "I thought a red suit was a pretty good target."

This post, originally published at 9:40 a.m., was updated at 9:52 a.m. with additional quotes from Roberts' appearance on today's morning shows.

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