Safeway Employee Fought to Disarm Shooter

Slain 66-year-old worker may have saved lives, police say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2022 7:25 PM CDT
Employee Tried to Disarm Supermarket Gunman
The Forum Shopping Center in Bend, Ore., remained closed Monday, Aug. 29, 2022.   (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

A 66-year-old employee killed in a shooting at a supermarket in Bend, Oregon, on Sunday evening is being praised as a hero whose actions may have saved lives. Police say Safeway employee Donald Ray Surrett Jr. fought with the gunman in the store's produce section and tried to disarm him, CNN reports. The AP reports that police spokeswoman Sheila Miller fought back tears as she discussed Surrett in a Monday news conference. "Mr. Surrett engaged with the shooter, attempted to disarm him, and may very well have prevented further deaths," she said. "Mr. Surrett acted heroically during this terrible event."

Police say the gunman, identified as Ethan Blair Miller, 20, also killed 84-year-old customer Glenn Edward Bennett near the front of the store. The police spokeswoman said shots could still be heard when officers entered the store, but they found the gunman dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, KGW reports. A shotgun and an AR-15-style rifle were found nearby. The gunman lived in an apartment complex behind the shopping center where the Safeway is located. Witnesses said he fired shots in the parking lot before entering the supermarket. Police say he was "spraying shots" through the aisles until Surrett confronted him. At least two people suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.

Miller said the motive is still being investigated. "We are aware that the shooter may have posted information online regarding his plan. We're investigating this," she said, per the AP. "We have no evidence of previous threats or prior knowledge of the shooter. We received information about the shooter's writings after the incident had taken place. And the shooter has no criminal history in the area." CNN reports that in blog entries "appearing to belong to Ethan Miller" on the site Wattpad, he blamed COVID restrictions and his love life, among other things, for turning him into a "ticking time bomb" and said he initially planned a school shooting for Sept. 8. (More Oregon stories.)

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