Imagine going Christmas shopping at your local mall, and someone starts shooting. That's exactly what happened in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday, when a lone gunman killed three, including himself. For reasons that weren't immediately clear to authorities, a shooter described by officials as simply an "adult male" entered the Clackamas Town Center with an assault rifle and started shooting somewhere near the food court. Witnesses counted as many as 60 shots before the assailant turned the gun on himself. The police found the shooters body, when they arrived, and officers secured the entire scene without firing a shot themselves.
As if the fact of the situation aren't alarming enough, things get really unnerving when you start reading the eyewitness accounts on Twitter. One witness said that her "baby" daughter was on Santa's lap when the shooting started. Another said they saw Santa drop to his knees a few moments late, though it was unclear if he had been shot. (At least one Santa made it out safely -- see above.) A Zales employee said that had she "just talked to [the shooter] yesterday," as others described him wearing camouflage and wearing some sort of white mask. Workers hid in the back rooms during the shooting, and at least 20 people were locked inside Build-A-Bear. All the while, Christmas music was playing in the background.
The Portland shooting comes just a few days after another lone gunman opened fire on an Indian reservation in California, killing four. But at this point, we all must feel numb to this sort of thing. Roughly ten percent of the 61 total mass shootings in America over the past three decades have happened in the past year. It doesn't seem like the violence is going to take a holiday break.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.