A 66-year-old Safeway employee who was killed in a shooting Sunday night at one of the chain’s supermarkets in Bend, Oregon, has been hailed as a hero after attempting to disarm the gunman, which authorities said likely prevented more deaths.
Donald Ray Surrett Jr., also of Bend, attacked the 20-year-old shooter near the rear of the store in the produce section after the gunman had fired several rounds from a rifle, police said.
“Mr. Surrett acted heroically during this terrible incident,” Bend PD Communications Manager Sheila Miller said Monday at a news conference.
Debora Jean Surrett, Donald’s ex-wife, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that her former husband served as a combat engineer in the U.S. Army for 20 years.
Although Surrett was never deployed to active combat zones, his ex-wife said he trained with other combat engineers to be the “first ones to go into war and the last ones to come home. ”
Authorities also identified the other victim during the press conference.
Glenn Edward Bennett, 84, of Bend, was shot inside the west entrance of the supermarket.
Miller said that Bend Fire authorities performed lifesaving efforts on Bennett. However, he did not survive.
Officers arrived on the scene under three minutes after receiving an initial 911 call. Miller said the first two officers “entered the store to confront the shooter” from two separate entrances in the front and back while shots were still being fired.
Heather Thompson told the Central Oregon Daily that she heard multiple shots across the street.
“I heard anywhere from five to eight shots. I thought it sounded like backfire,” Thompson said.
Thompson said she heard two rounds of “10 to 20 shots” less than a minute later.
“And by that time, I went inside and told my dad to get away from the window,” she said “And people were running out of Safeway.”
Safeway customer Josh Caba told KTVZ he was with his four children when he heard multiple shots.
“I immediately turned to my children and said, ‘Run!’ People were screaming,” Caba said. “It was a horrifying experience.”
Within minutes authorities said they found the gunman near the produce section dead from self-inflicted gunshot wounds with an “AR 15 style rifle and a shotgun in close proximity to the shooter.” In accordance with The Daily Wire’s policy on not naming mass shooters, this article will not include his name and photograph.
The gunman lived in a nearby apartment complex where he posted violent and threatening messages to his social media that were shared on social media after the shooting.
KTVZ reports that in one post dated the day before the shooting that he was “done waiting” and that Sunday would be “doomsday . . . I can’t stand more than one more day of absolute misery.”
Authorities served a search warrant at the shooter’s apartment and vehicle, where they found three Molotov cocktails, a sawed-off shotgun, ammunition, and digital devices currently under investigation.
Miller said that authorities along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are determining if the shooter obtained the weapons legally.
Mayor Pro-Tem Anthony Broadman, during the press conference, called Sunday’s incident a “dark night” and offered condolences to the victim’s families of those “murdered in this heinous attack.”
“We need to guard against the cynicism of thinking of these as regular, unavoidable things,” Broadman said. “I won’t accept that.”
“I know the community of Bend won’t accept that,” Broadman added.
The Associated Press reports that Oregon residents have the chance to pass one of the nation’s strictest gun-control laws in November. Initiative 17 would require a permit to purchase any gun and ban large-capacity magazines over ten rounds, except for current owners, law enforcement, and the military.
Residents looking to qualify for a permit would need to pass a firearm safety course approved by the state, pay a fee, and undergo a criminal background check with personal information, fingerprints, and a photograph for the state’s firearms database.
This report has been updated to include additional information.