On Monday, the police identified the 20-year-old shooter who opened fire at the Eastside Safeway in Bend, Oregon, on Sunday evening. The suspect shot and killed a customer as they entered the store, and then he shot and killed a store employee who police say made a valiant effort to disarm the shooter and may have prevented further deaths.
Ethan Blair Miller, 20, committed suicide at the back of the store as the first officers arrived, still hearing gunshots. He was discovered in the back produce section, armed with a rifle and shotgun.
Glenn Edward Bennett, 84, a customer from Bend, was shot at the store entrance, and despite the efforts of officers and a Bend Fire medic to save his life, he did not survive, according to Sheila Miller, the communications manager for the Bend Police Department, who spoke at a news conference.
Donald Ray Surrett Jr., 66, also of Bend, was identified as the employee who was fatally shot near the back of the store. Miller stated that Surrett “acted heroically” as customers fled for the doors among the several gunshots that were going off in the store.
Miller reported that there were two additional people who were injured but did not sustain life-threatening wounds.
After receiving the original call, officers arrived at the site between two and three minutes later. Miller stated that the first two police to arrive “entered the store to face the gunman”; one did so through the front entrance, while the other did so from the back entrance. She stated that four minutes passed between the initial call to 911 and the report of the “suspect being down.”
Miller, whose recent violent and threatening online posts were widely circulated on social media shortly after the shooting, resided close at the Fox Hollow Apartments, according to Miller. (In a Saturday post, he apparently said that he was “done waiting” and that Sunday would be “doomsday…. I cannot endure more than one more day of utter pain.”)
Due to the gunman’s internet threats of violence, the Oregon State Police Explosives Unit (bomb squad) evacuated the business and his apartment, and asked the occupants of eight nearby units to evacuate voluntarily. Miller reported that the entire shopping complex had been emptied.
A search warrant was executed on the assailant’s residence and vehicle. Three Molotov cocktails, a sawed-off shotgun, additional ammunition, and digital gadgets are currently under review.
Miller described the area as “a pretty substantial crime scene,” and added that investigators worked through the night to process it. They anticipate remaining at the scene until Tuesday, and officers will be at a location nearby to return any property that was left behind in the store. Additionally, they have a plan to return any vehicles that were left in the parking lot. Counselors who specialize in mental health will also be available.
A community support center will be open at Pilot Butte Middle School from 3 to 7 p.m. daily thanks to the collaboration of Deschutes County Victims Assistance and county Behavioral Health. She indicated that anyone who requires assistance can walk in whenever they feel the need to do so on Mondays and Tuesdays. A crime victim compensation program has also been established, and anyone who was present at the site of the crime or their next of kin is eligible to participate.
Miller stated that police had received no information about the suspect’s threats of violence before the shooting, and that the suspect had no criminal history in the local area. However, police are investigating the widely circulated internet postings that the suspect made.
The manner in which the shooter accessed his firearms is another area of inquiry at this time. Miller stated that a tip line had been established for anyone with information that could assist in the inquiry and that the number to call was 541-322-6380.
To begin, there is currently no evidence to suggest that there was more than one person involved in the attack. The presumed murderer has now passed away. Even though this is still an active investigation, and even while it is unfortunate that we have to stay constantly attentive, we do not feel that there is any further immediate danger in connection with what happened yesterday night at this time. Second, the officers of the Bend Police Department, along with those of several other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, worked tirelessly throughout the night to protect the citizens of Bend and conduct an exhaustive investigation, during which they gathered all of the evidence and ensured that it was processed in an appropriate manner. This takes time.
The FBI, Bend Fire & Rescue, Oregon State Police, Deschutes County Sherriff’s Office, and Oregon State Police all contributed to this multi-agency endeavor, which was led by Chief Mike Krantz. Thank you to the emergency and medical workers, the city of St. Charles, and everyone who stood up to guide this town through a tragic night, as well as Governor Kate Brown, who monitored the situation throughout the evening.