* No details on identities of shooter, victims
* At least one person seriously wounded: sheriff's spokesman
* Shoppers hid in store back rooms, shooting was near food
(Adds comments from sheriff, details)
By Teresa Carson
HAPPY VALLEY, Ore., Dec 11 A gunman opened fire
inside an Oregon shopping mall on Tuesday in the middle of the
busy Christmas season, killing at least two people, critically
wounding a young woman and terrorizing holiday shoppers before
shooting himself to death, police said.
The afternoon shooting rampage at the crowded Clackamas Town
Center in the Portland suburb of Happy Valley touched off panic
inside the mall, sending thousands of shoppers streaming out as
police and fire crews arrived on the scene.
Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said the lone gunman
died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and that law
enforcement officers who descended on the scene had not fired a
single shot inside the mall. A single weapon was recovered.
"The mall is supposed to be a place where we can take our
families. He took the lives of two people and a young lady is at
the hospital fighting for her life right now," Roberts said.
The wounded victim was taken by helicopter to a hospital
where a spokeswoman said she was in serious condition.
The incident marked the latest in a string of shooting
rampages this year that included the killing of 12 people and
wounding of 58 others at a midnight screening of "The Dark
Knight Rises" in Colorado.
In Oregon, police evacuated terrified shoppers, who were
reported by local media and via Twitter to have hidden in the
back rooms of shops as gunshots rang out in the 1.4 million-
"Shooting in the middle of clackamas town center. I'm stuck
in the back room of build a bear!" one person tweeted.
High school student Hannah Baggs, 14, told the Oregonian
newspaper that she got a close look at the gunman before he
entered the mall and opened fire.
"He was, like, 10 feet away from us, wearing a white mask
and carrying something heavy with both hands," Baggs said in
remarks carried on the paper's website. "He went running into
MAN IN SANTA SUIT 'HIT THE FLOOR'
The Oregonian also reported that the gunman had used a
semi-automatic rifle and may have been wearing body armor, but
police did not immediately confirm that. The paper said the
shooting occurred near the mall's food court.
"All of a sudden I heard something similar to a .22 popping,
probably eight times, and people dropping everywhere, people
screaming," witness Christina Fisher said in an interview aired
on CNN. "It was chaos."
A man dressed in a red Santa suit and beard who said he
greets children at the mall told local KGW-TV that he heard some
15 gunshots and realized there was a gunman on the loose.
"So I hit the floor," the man told KGW-TV in an interview
outside the mall. "My crew that was working with me must have
left and everybody that was in the (Christmas) set must have
left, because when I got up there was nobody in the set but
Police and SWAT teams established a perimeter around the
scene and worked to evacuate the mall as they searched for the
gunman. Video footage from inside the mall, aired on CNN, showed
shoppers heading toward exits with their arms raised above their
Roberts said that police, assisted by agents from the FBI
and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
were still combing through the mall for evidence late on Tuesday
A mall spokeswoman directed calls to law enforcement
"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their
families," Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said in a statement
released by his office. "I appreciate the work of the first
responders and their quick reaction to this tragic shooting."
(Reporting by Teresa Carson, Dan Cook, Alex Dobuzinskis and Dan
Whitcomb; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston,
Eric Walsh and Lisa Shumaker)