Bend Police say a worker who was killed in Sunday night’s shooting at the Safeway on Bend’s east side tried to disarm the shooter and may have saved lives in the process.
Police provided new details at a Monday afternoon press conference, saying the crime scene is still active and detectives have a lot of evidence to sift through. A motive for the shooting remains unclear.
The first 911 calls of shots fired came in at about 7:04 p.m. Sunday.
The suspect entered the shopping center from the Fox Hollow Apartments, located behind the Safeway, police say. Starting at the Costco, police say the shooter fired shots in the parking lot from an AR-15-style rifle.
Windows at the Big Lots next door were also shot out.
The victims were identified as Glenn Edward Bennett, 84, and Donald Ray Surrett Jr., 66.
Bennett, a customer, was shot near the west entrance of the Safeway. He was taken to St. Charles Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The suspect continued through the store, firing more shots, police said.
‘Heroic’ action by Safeway worker
Surrett, a Safeway worker, got into a physical altercation with the shooter and tried to disarm him.
“We believe, truly, that that stopped or disrupted the activities long enough to allow our officers time to come in and also to disrupt the shooter enough to really confuse him enough to stop what he was doing; stop actively shooting people and that really was a heroic action,” said Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz.
Krantz said without that action, the shooter would have likely continued through the store.
“He stopped other people losing their lives. He was heroic and that fight is what stopped this incident.”
Two people were also injured at the scene. They were not identified.
The suspect was identified as Ethan Blair Miller, 20, of Bend. He was found dead in the produce aisle from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, police say. In addition to the AR-15-style rifle, police say a shotgun was found near the suspect’s body.
A search warrant for the suspect’s apartment found digital devices and extra ammunition. Police also searched his car and found 3 Molotov cocktails and a sawed-off shotgun.
Because of what was found in the suspect’s apartment, a bomb squad was called into the Safeway Monday morning and eight units of the Fox Hollow apartments were evacuated.
Because of the items found, police say the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are assisting in determining if the weapons were obtained legally.
Police said there was no evidence found of more shooters or shootings. No officers fired shots in the response, police said.
Police have set up a tip line for anyone with information that can help in the investigation. It is 541-322-6380.
The Safeway and several other stores in The Forum remained closed Monday for the investigation.
Another Safeway employee named Robert said on Sunday that he and other employees quickly went for cover during the shooting.
“Me and three other employees ran into a walk-in refrigerator and closed the door and stayed there and stayed hidden until authorities arrived.” Robert said.
Heather Thompson, was across the street from the shopping center when she heard dozens of shots.
“I heard anywhere from five to eight shots. I thought it sounded like backfire,” Thompson said. “Less than a minute later, there were 10 to 20 shots and then another 10 to 20 shots. And by that time, I went inside and told my dad to get away from the window. And people were running out of Safeway.”