Bend Safeway employee died trying to stop shooter, police said

Author: KGW Staff, Anthony Macuk (KGW)

BEND, Ore. (KGW) — The Sunday evening shooting at a Safeway in Bend ended just four minutes after police were called, and one of the two deceased victims was an employee who attempted to disarm the shooter and likely prevented further violence, Bend police said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

At an initial news conference Sunday evening, police said a man carrying an assault-style rifle came from an adjacent residential area and began shooting in the parking lot of the Forum Shopping Center at around 7 p.m. Sunday.

He then headed into the Safeway, shooting and killing one person near the front of the store and another toward the back. Police entered the store and found the suspect dead, with an AR-15 style rifle and a shotgun near him.

At the Monday news conference, police identified the two victims as 84-year-old Glenn Edward Bennett and 66-year-old Donald Ray Surrett Jr., both of whom were Bend residents.

Bennett was a customer and was the victim killed near the front of the store, police said; Surrett Jr. was an employee and was the victim killed near the rear of the store. Surrett was unarmed, police said, and physically attacked the shooter to try to disarm him.

Surrett “acted heroically” and “may very well have prevented further deaths,” Bend Police Department communications manager Sheila Miller said.

At least two other people suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, she said.

Watch the full press conference:

Police began receiving calls reporting a shooting at 7:04 p.m., Miller said, and officers arrived at the scene two or three minutes later and entered the Safeway immediately from the front and rear. Shots could still be heard coming from inside the building when police entered, she said.

Officers found the shooter in the produce section at 7:08 p.m., she said, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police did not fire any shots during the incident.

Police received multiple reports of a second shooter and of shootings in other places in Bend Sunday evening, Miller said, but they investigated all the leads and found no evidence of any other shooters or shootings. Police believe there is no further threat to the community, she said.

Police identified the shooter as 20-year-old Ethan Blair Miller, and said he was a resident of the Fox Hollow apartment complex, located across the street to the rear of the Safeway.

Police obtained a warrant to search the alleged shooter’s apartment, according to Bend police chief Mike Krantz, but had to wait to execute it because they learned of possible explosives at the site, so the Oregon State Police bomb squad had to be called in first. The apartment complex was evacuated in the interim.

Miller said police found three Molotov cocktails and a sawed-off shotgun in the suspect’s car and spare ammunition and “digital devices” in his apartment. She said police don’t yet know whether the shooter obtained his firearms legally, but added that he had no criminal history in the area.

Investigators are expected to remain on the scene throughout Monday and Tuesday, Miller said.

Krantz and Miller also said police have not yet determined how many shots the shooter fired or how many people were in the store at the time, although Krantz described the parking lot as very busy Sunday evening, and said police continued to speak to witnesses throughout the night.

They acknowledged that there have been discussions on social media in the past 24 hours about an online account allegedly belonging to the shooter and the possibility that he posted a manifesto beforehand and may have initially planned to attack a school.

However, Krantz declined to comment on the information in the online discussions, and said police are still investigating and it was too soon to release any official information about the shooter’s motives.

Miller said that a community support center would be set up at Pilot Butte Middle School from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday for anyone who needs support.

Anthony Boardman, mayor pro-tem of Bend, also briefly spoke at the news conference and urged the community to “guard against the cynicism” of coming to think of these sorts of shootings as regular and unavoidable events.

“I won’t accept that,” he said. “I know the community of Bend won’t accept that.”

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