PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One of the men shot to death at a Safeway store in Bend Sunday night died a hero after confronting the shooter, police said Monday.
Investigators say Donald Surrett Jr., who worked at the Safeway, was one of two people killed Sunday night after he reportedly tried to disarm the shooter, who was carrying an AR-15-style rifle, in the grocery’s produce section.
The other person killed was 84-year-old Glenn Bennett, who was slain when the shooter entered the store. Police identified the suspected shooter as 20-year-old Ethan Miller, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Police are still working to determine a motive and say their investigators are looking into several posts the suspected shooter made on social media leading up to the tragedy.
Many people stopped by the scene Monday, some dropping off flowers and others giving water to law enforcement officers on scene.
Miller reportedly came from an apartment complex that borders the shopping center and shot a gun several times, including at a Big Lots a few stores down from the Safeway. Police say he entered the Safeway and shot Bennett before Surrett tried to stop him.
Surrett was a part of the Disabled American Veterans chapter in Bend and was in the Army for more than 20 years before being honorably discharged in 2000. He was decorated 13 times and was the Treasurer and Adjutant for Central Oregon DAV.
George McCart, who was in the Central Oregon Disabled American Veterans with Surrett, said that his friend was a “really nice guy and personable as all get out.” He also said that Surrett’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. When things go south, you react,” McCart said.
“He certainly is that type of an individual that he wants to see right done. And if something wrong is happening, he feels like it’s his responsibility to try to interject positively in some way,” added Surrett’s pastor Jeff Coleman.
People in Bend are not surprised that one of their own took action to save lives.
“That’s Bend, everyone here, for the most part, the people I grow up with, they will stand up for whoever whenever. They’ll say something because they care and because they probably know you,” said Bend resident Sophia Rodriguez.
Rodriguez also said that she was a classmate of Miller’s at Mountain View High School.
“It’s pretty sickening,” she said.
There were reports of two shootings Sunday, but police say there is only evidence of this one, and that there is no evidence of a second shooter.
A vigil took place at Drake Park, remembering the lives that were lost.
“I just knew that our community was hurting and that we can feel better being together,” said Brandy Steelhammer, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action who helped organize the vigil.
“I really trust that being in relationship, knowing that neighbors caring about one another, seeing the employees from Safeway, the community that they’ve developed, that’s what will get us through,” added Reverend Erika Spaet. “That’s what community looks like. And I think that’s what we’re all longing for. And when communities take care of one another and are creative about keeping one another safe, I think these kinds of things don’t happen.”
Safeway announced on Tuesday that all 140 stores in Oregon and Washington will be collecting donations at checkout for those impacted by the shooting.