BEND, Ore. (NewsNation) — Police say a store employee who died in a shooting at an Oregon grocery store may have saved lives as he struggled with the gunman. Two people, plus the shooter, died.
Police say Donald Ray Surrett Jr., 66, was a hero. Glenn Edward Bennett, 84, also of Bend, died in the shooting, as well.
“Mr. Surrett engaged with the shooter, attempted to disarm him and may very well have prevented further deaths. Mr. Surrett acted heroically turning this terrible event,” police spokeswoman Sheila Miller said at a news conference as she struggled against tears.
Police said Monday that the shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound; his body was found by police near an AR-15-style weapon and a shotgun. Police identified the gunman as Ethan Blair Miller, 20, of Bend. They say they also found Molotov cocktails and a sawed-off shotgun inside the shooter’s car.
Police say the shooter began by firing shots in the parking lot, then entered the Safeway and shot Bennett inside the entrance. The shooter continued firing inside the store, fatally shooting Surrett Jr.
Debora Jean Surrett, the ex-wife of Surrett Jr., told the Associated Press he was in the Army for 26 years as a combat engineer before being honorably discharged in 2000.
George McCart, who was in the Central Oregon Disabled American Veterans with Surrett Jr., said that his friend was a “really nice guy and personable as all get out.” He also said that Surrett Jr.’s actions were based on his training.
“When you’re trained to do things like that, and he was trained, it becomes an instant reaction,” McCart said.
Bend is a city of about 97,000 approximately 160 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon.
Molly Taroli, 40, told The Bulletin newspaper she was with her husband in the Safeway shopping for dinner when the shooter went through the store “spraying shots.”
Taroli told the newspaper she took her own handgun from her purse. Employees, Taroli said, were yelling “go, go, go!” as they tried to help people flee.
Josh Caba, another shopper in the store, 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 told the news outlet. “It was a horrifying experience.”
The community and Safeway employees gathered Monday to grieve for the victims of the deadly attack.
NewsNation affiliate KOIN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.