Man Accused in Ore. Mall Shooting Wanted to Travel

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“We knocked on each other’s door every morning. Every day to hang out, to talk,” said Samantha Bennett, who added she went to middle school with Roberts but wasn’t close to him until he moved in with a girlfriend across the hall from her at an apartment complex in summer 2011.

“If me and my boyfriend were fighting, he was there to talk to me,” Bennett said. “We would go to the bar together. I don’t get it.”

Roberts’ dining room was decorated like a jungle, Bennett said — just one of the quirky things he did. He had green lights and put ivy on the walls.

He once showed her a black handgun that she believed he purchased legally. He dropped out of sight earlier this year, and his phone was disconnected, she said.

More recently, Roberts rented a basement room in a modest, single-story Portland home and hadn’t lived there long, neighbor Bobbi Bates said. She said she saw him leave at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday wearing a dark jacket and jeans, carrying a guitar case.

Police say the suspect had stolen an AR-15 rifle from someone he knew.

The first 911 call came in at 3:29 p.m. Officers arrived a minute later. Instead of waiting for SWAT teams, police immediately entered the crowded mall.

Police told people inside to put their hands in the air, to make sure an armed person wasn’t among them. Police spent hours clearing the 1.4 million-square-foot mall, as some workers and shoppers continued to hide in fear.

Wearing a hockey-style face mask and dark clothing, Roberts fled along a mall corridor and into a back hallway, down stairs and into a corner where police found him dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot, authorities said.

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said the fact that more people weren’t killed was due to several factors. The suspect’s gun jammed at one point; the mall implemented an immediate lockdown; and a large number of officers arrived on-scene quickly, “curtailing the suspect’s ability to move around the mall.”

“Ten thousand people in the mall at one time kept a level head. They got themselves out of the mall. They helped others get out, and there are just a number of heroes that took the time to help people get out,” the sheriff said. “It was really about a full group of people coming together to make a difference.”

(Photo Credit: Facebook)

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