Gov. Kate Brown was in Bend Friday, comforting families of the victims in last Sunday’s deadly shooting at the Safeway on Bend’s eastside. She also spent time thanking police and first responders.
“I came this morning to express my sympathies to the families of the victims, Mr. Surrrett and Mr. Bennett,” Brown told reporters after her meeting. “To let the community know I know the community is grieving that Oregon has their back and that this is going to take time for folks to grieve and heal and that whatever resources they need, that the state of Oregon will be there for them.”
Bend Police say Bennett was shot near a store entrance. They also say Surrett had the chance to run, but hid behind a grocery cart, armed with a produce knife, and tried to disarm the shooter.
Brown also praised first responders for their quick response. Police say the first 911 call came in at 7:04 p.m. Four minutes later, police say, the suspect took his own life as officers moved in.
“My understanding is that from start to finish, (the incident) took 4 minutes, which is honestly just extraordinary. But these first responders showed enormous courage and strength given the circumstances,” Brown said. “It’s folks like these, as well as the actions of the victims that make me so incredibly proud to be an Oregonian.”
Brown said the state could end up sending more resources if needed.
Asked if she would order the lowering of the U.S. flag to half staff for Surrett and Bennett, Brown said it was complicated.
“The U.S. flag code is fairly limited. It’s extremely limited in the circumstances that governors can take action. So the president, for the most part, makes those decisions,” Brown said. “I will be lowering the state capitol flags and providing those flags to the victims families.”
Brown called on the Oregon legislature to do more to end gun violence in the state. And she voiced support for Measure 114, a citizen-fronted measure on the November ballot that would add requirements before purchasing a firearm.
If passed by voters, changes would include:
- Banning ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 rounds
- Require people to apply for a permit in order to purchase a firearm.
- Pay a fee
- Submit a photo identification and be fingerprinted
- Complete safety training
- Overwrite a gun sales loophole
She admitted she doesn’t know if Measure 114, which had already been approved for the ballot before Sunday’s shooting, would have prevented what happened.
“What the data tells us, what the evidence shows us is that really tough, effective, commonsense firearm safety measures make an incredible difference,” Brown said. “We only need to look to Canada to see that these measures work.”
When asked about a report about a past criminal conviction involving Surrett, Brown said it doesn’t change his actions which police have described as heroic.
“Look, I certainly can’t ignore history and what Mr. Surrett did in the past. What I do know in my experiences during these crises is that you see a person for who he or she is. And I think Mr. Surrett’s actions on Sunday night were truly extraordinary.”